Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Bluesy rock and pop from The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach

Regular readers of this blog will know I am a tremendous fan of The Black Keys.  The irregular ones might know too, I guess. I don’t mean you, of course. You’re cool. The Black Keys are a brilliant duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney who play modern, bluesy rock n’ roll. Or at least that’s how they started. Over the years, the Keys have branched out into some surprising territory, though almost always retaining their blues roots.

I believe the title of the CD refers to his razor.

Patrick Carney plays drums and was originally the band’s producer for a long time. I give him credit where it is due. He is a great drummer and is responsible for a lot of the Keys’ sound. However, there can be no arguing that the soul of the band lives in guitarist, lead singer, and main songwriter Dan Auerbach. Auerbach grew up (in Akron, OH, thank you very much) listening to Junior Kimbrough, Robert Johnson, R.L. Burnside, and a host of other blues greats. However, he does not regurgitate their music, their licks, or their style. Rather, Auerbach listened to that music, incorporated it into his soul, and now gives us something built from those materials but very much his own.

In 2008, the Keys released the groundbreaking “Attack & Release.” On that album, the Keys really stretched themselves, inviting other musicians into the studio and trying some stuff they had never done before. In 2009, Auerbach was still apparently feeling experimental and invited some other musicians into the studio to help him bring life to more of his tremendous songs on his first solo recording, “Keep It Hid.” In spite of the extra personnel, Auerbach doesn’t continue with the more complex and layered sound of “Attack & Release.” Instead, he keeps things simple and delivers songs that remind me of older roots rock, pop, and even some folk. As always with Auerbach, he pays homage without borrowing.

I liked most of this album, but I think you’ll get a good feel for the strength of the songwriting and performances from these 5.

  • Trouble Weighs a Ton – Auerbach eases us into his album with this beautiful and peaceful folk ballad.
  • I Want Some More – This track sounds most like The Black Keys on this album, which I suppose is unavoidable. I do wonder why he put this one out on this album rather than with the Keys.
  • Heartbroken, In Disrepair – The dirty guitar riff and sad lyrics are fantastic, but I think my favorite touch is the faint backing vocals.
  • Mean Monsoon – This also has a throwback feel, but it’s more like soulful, dark pop from the early 60s, like maybe Eric Burdon & the Animals.
  • My Last Mistake – Less bluesy than what we usually expect from Auerbach. This is really more of a pop tune, and it’s a good one. In fact, this has a sunny, simple Buddy Holly feel to it.

I am pleased to say that this solo project did not mean The Black Keys have broken up. They have released another new album since this solo project. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if Auerbach sleeps. I have seen Keys numerous times over the years, so I know they’re keeping up a rigorous touring schedule. They have released 8 fine albums in 8 years. This solo album came out in 2009. As I researched this post I discovered they also released a rap/rock album in 2009 called “Blakroc” that features the Keys and rappers like Mos Def, Ludacris, Q-Tip, and more (Ol’ Dirty Bastard even gets a credit on one song, and he died in 2004!). I have ordered this album and will almost certainly write it up. The most remarkable thing about this impressive output is that they keep getting better year after year.

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September 1, 2010 - Posted by | Blues, Popular, Rock

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