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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
A big helping of blues-rock, extra crunchy
on February 5, 2005
Take a big chunk of blues rock, throw it in a sack with some Cream-era Eric Clapton, a bit of Jimi Hendrix, a pinch of Stevie Ray Vaughn and a hint of Creedence. Shake vigorously, deep fry until extra-crunchy.
Akron, Ohio duo The Black Keys followed just this recipe for their minimalist debut album, with results that are nothing short of amazing.
Guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach's fingers canter up and down blues scales with ease, and his fuzz dial is obviously set to "11". His sandpapery pipes sound as if he's guzzled whisky and puffed filterless Camels for far longer than his 20-some-odd years would allow. This guy has no business be able to sing like this.
Auerbach is perfectly complemented by Patrick Carney's enthusiastic pounding of the skins, which is never, ever relegated to just providing a background beat. As producer, Carney is also largely to thank for the Keys's distinctive gritty bootleg sound that sounds as if you're spinning a dusty 45 unearthed in the back of some record shop.
The pair come barreling out of the gate with the very first track, "Busted", an energetic number that immediately gives notice to listeners that this band is about scorching, unapologetic blues.
From there, they move into the down-and dirty "Do the Rump" and on to the slightly Creedence-ish "I'll Be Your Man." A few tracks later is another straight-up blues song, "Run Me Down", which leads into "Leavin' Trunk", an incredible song that sounds like it could have been an undiscovered Cream gem. Then it's into the ultra-fuzzed out "Heavy Soul". Their cover of The Beatles' "She Said She Said" is nothing short of amazing. It is the perfect cover -- reimagining a classic while remaining true to its heart and soul.
The album wraps up with "Brooklyn Bound", another masterful blues rock number that sounds like something you only hear on classic radio stations at like 2:00 a.m. Actually this is technically the second-to-last song, but the real last song, "240 Years Before Your Time" is just 4 minutes of slow, dreamy electric guitar noodling followed by 20 minutes of silence. I hate these kind of filler tracks, and thankfully it's a mistake the Keys didn't repeat in their next two albums.
There are several songs I didn't mention, but not because they are in any way bad. Indeed, there's not a shoddy number on the album (except the last pseudo-song"). You definitely get your money's worth with these tunes. The Black Keys are definitely one of the most significant recent music finds for this die-hard blues and classic rock fan. I thought they didn't make music like this any more. I'm glad I was wrong.