Three years ago my friend Heidi told me she had a song I had to listen to by a band called The Black Keys. This is how the conversation went:
HB: Laura you have to hear this band. The lead singer kinda sounds like a younger Jimi Hendrix.
LL: Bullshit. No one sounds like Jimi Hendrix!
HB: Just listen to “Girl Is On My Mind” and “I’ll Be Your Man.”
Heidi could rest her case. When I first heard those two songs the lead singer/guitarist, Dan Auerbach, absolutely sounded like he could have been Jimi’s son and I was floored. When I did some research I found out that the incredible voice was coming from a skinny white guy from Ohio and that the incredible sound was coming from a music duo. I thought for sure that there was a full band making all that noise but I was wrong! The other half of The Black Keys is drummer/producer Patrick Carney, a tall, lanky, nerdy guy with big nerdy glasses which, again, was not what I was expecting.
Last week I saw The Black Keys live at the Fillmore along with what felt like everyone else in Denver since the show was completely sold out. Not bad for a band no one has ever heard of. Auerbach sang with more snarl than he knows what to do with and at one point I wondered how so much volume was coming from one guy. Then I looked to the left and saw Carney tearing it up on his drums like he’s John Bonham circa 1970. Carney seriously gave one of my favorite drummers I’ve seen live, Dave Grohl, a run for his money.
The Black Keys formed in 2001 and were active in the underground scene of Akron, Ohio. The band released their debut album, The Big Come Up, in early 2002. Along with their second album Thickfreakness, it was recorded entirely in Carney’s basement on an 8-track tape recorder from the early 1980’s. No question these guys are old school.
Even though The Black Keys’ have been bringing their bluesy rock sound for close to a decade it seems like every time I mention them people have no idea who I’m talking about. But that is quickly changing. They were recently featured in Rolling Stone and their songs have been used on television shows such as Entourage, Sons of Anarchy, Rescue Me and Gossip Girl, among others, and in movies such as Black Snake Moan and RocknRolla, just to name a few.
So the question is this: If The Black Keys are all over the pop culture radar then how come no one knows about them? Do yourself a favor and download a couple songs and see what you think. Start with these: “I’ll Be Your Man,” “Girl Is On My Mind,” “Tighten Up” and “Howlin For You.” I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.
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