Keep It Hid
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2009
Is anybody not yet on board? The conductor is certainly making it difficult to ignore him. In early 2008 he, along with his co-conspirator in the Black Keys Patrick Carney, released Attack and Release, another gem in their growing catalog. Later last year they dropped a concert DVD Live at the Crystal Ballroom, a document that further cements their status as a band to be reckoned with. And now, only three months down the road, Auerbach rolls out his first solo venture. Keep It Hid could hardly be a less appropriate title considering that the peripatetic singer/songwriter has done anything but hide this past year.

What's the story behind all this superhuman productivity? Auerbach has stated that, quite simply, he never stops working. Equal parts driven and inspired, it made all the sense in the world for him to build his own studio. Akron Analog, named after his hometown and preferred method of recording, is where he began assembling the rough cuts, mostly written during recent tours, into the songs that came together as Keep It Hid.

In addition to singing, guitar playing and his role as producer, Auerbach tackled drums, percussion and other instruments including glockenspiel. To further flesh out the sound, he recruited friends and family. Bob Cesare, also a multi-instrumentalist, handles the additional drum duties, and guitarist James Quine (Auerbach's uncle, and first cousin of late underground guitar hero Robert Quine) chimes in. This all hands on deck approach results in an aggressive yet nuanced recording, which manages to take the greasy edge off the Black Keys' signature sound without sacrificing any of its bluster.

Keep It Hid is not a retreat from the sonic explorations Auerbach undertook on Attack and Release, it is an expansion of them. The songs stretch out with that familiar multi-tracked guitar base, augmented throughout with the often subtle employment of organ, banjo and bass. This work unquestionably signals a step forward in Auerbach's rapidly evolving style. Listening to Keep It Hid, it is easier to understand why (and how) Auerbach was allegedly writing songs with (and for) Ike Turner in 2007 (when Turner abruptly died, Attack and Release turned into a proper Black Keys album).

There is familiar territory covered here: the Delta drones of Junior Kimbrough (from Chulahoma), the electrified country blues stomp from Thickfreakness, and the more experimental harmonic experimentation from Rubber Factory, Magic Potion and, of course, Attack and Release. But Keep It Hid takes a deeper dive into a variety of source material, ranging from Motown to bluegrass. Seriously. And lest that sound a tad too facile or all-encompassing a description, it might help to expound upon Auerbach's astonishing versatility. With many musicians, it's too often an overly generous bit of grasping to discuss the manner in which they infuse a variety of disparate elements into their work--particularly when those elements serve more as superficial window dressing to signify unearned street cred, or actual facility. Listening to Keep It Hid, it is impossible to ignore the myriad touches (sometimes sneaky, mostly masterful) Auerbach employs to embellish his songs: there are snatches of psychedelic guitar (think Nuggets era garage rock), elemental--and bastardized--British blues (itself initially an homage to the `50s Chicago scene), and the sing-a-long-hair mini anthems of the `70s.

Auerbach never seems to be straining himself or merely appropriating other, signature sounds just for the sake of doing so. The music he has so obviously, and voraciously, absorbed makes him who he is, pure and simple. For instance, on "Mean Monsoon" his voice is a chemical snarl that seems a bit like Peter Green filtered through early, dirty Junior Wells. The music is reminiscent of vintage Yardbirds, complete with tambourine tapping and chorus-crashing bongo flourishes. "When I Left the Room" features his now patented paranoid snarl, propelled by guitars that seethe behind a banjo (!) march. It is not unlike the best Black Keys material, with all the obvious and not-so-obvious influences on the surface, unfolding into something startling original. His voice, which at times is able to convey a pained vulnerability offset by a gruff, even defiant resolve, has improved with each album. On "Whispered Words", possibly the best thing Auerbach has achieved to this point, all of his skills are on display: the opening build-up is Motown without the horns, with subdued guitar weaving around his plaintive vocals. As the song gathers steam, suddenly it takes a detour from Detroit and heads south into Stax territory, sans the crackerjack studio musicians. It is astounding that these very unique and even sacrosanct sounds are being incorporated in a fashion that manages to feel unforced and even organic.

This last observation warrants repeating: Auerbach is not aping classic riffs so much as they seem to sweat out of his pores. It's all up there, in his head, and he is channeling it into his own vision in a manner that is consistent and convincing. A few other highlights include the gorgeous "When the Night Comes", which features Jessica Lea Mayfield--who also appeared on the last track from Catch and Release. On "Real Desire" and "My Last Mistake", Auerbach offers up future Karaoke material, while "On the Prowl" and "Heartbroken, in Disrepair", he delivers the goods in a way that few people would want to tackle, even in the privacy of their own car. Finally, keeping with his tradition of ending albums on the right note, he leaves us with a sublime acoustic coda, fittingly entitled "Goin' Home". Auerbach, of course, is already home, and has never really left: he remains loyal to Akron but has long since staked claim on more extensive territory.

In sum, Dan Auerbach was responsible for helping make one of the better albums of 2008, and Keep It Hid is already a contender in 2009. Should we go ahead and call him the current King of the Hill? Based on all available evidence, he's that guy, and the competition for his crown is not particularly close at this time.

[...]
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
As a fan of the Black Keys, I had high expectations for this solo release from Dan Auerbach. But, would he really branch out to incorporate different instruments and styles into this music? Or would it sound like a group of Black Keys songs. The answer is a little of both and the results are phenomenal.

It's as if this album was unearthed from a time capsule when music was full of soul and not so heavily controlled and overmarketed. The confidence of both the playing and songwriting is quite astounding. Traditional electric blues machismo is shown on "I Want Some More" with its fuzzed out guitars and driving beats. This is the type of song that the Black Keys could have put on one of their recent albums. But, listeners get a left turn with a song like "When the Night Comes" which is achingly beautiful with its sparse instrumentals and heartfelt lyrics and vocals.

The best thing about the album is the flow of the songs. There is so much variety in the styles within the mellow bookends of "Trouble Weighs a Ton" and "Going Home" that the listener is never bored. Hopefully, this isn't the first solo release by Auerbach because I will be there anytime he decides exorcise his inner musical demons. Well done!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2013
First of all, the music is great. No complaints. However I have now bought and sent back 2
records to amazon due to the albums being warped. As most of you vinyl-o-philes are aware,
playing warped records on your turntable (mine are all vintage) is not good for them. Not sure
what is going on with this batch of lp's but if you purchase this product, make sure you throw
it on the platter and check it for problems.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2012
I really don't know what was going on with The Black Keys at this time.

I kinda fell out of touch with the band after Attack & Release. I was very dissapointed with that album. The rawness and dirt of previous releases now had a metallic sheen, and the killer riffs were replaced by more atmospheric songs that were not as engaging as earlier albums. I liked it, but I wasn't in love with it like I was with Rubber Factory and Thickfreakness. So, I kinda stopped listening to them for a while.

Then I heard that Dan Aurebach was going solo. I wondered if that was the end for the band. Fortuantly, it wasn't (Brothers and El Camino will gladly tell you that it won't be over for a long time.). I wondered what a Dan Aurebach solo album would sound like.

Well, I can tell you. It sounds GOOD.

This album doesn't really sound all too different from The Black Keys, and yet at the same time, it sounds nothing like them. In the case of Dan it's not so much that Patrick Carney, drummer for the Black Keys, holds him back as that he's such a distinctive, powerful drummer that he colors and changes Auerbach's playing. On this record, the album emphasizes more on feel than on force.

Songs on this record are swampier and spacier than the Keys' releases, such as the stomp of Heartbroken In Disrepair, I Want Some More, and Mean Monsoon. There's a more psychedelic feel on this release than ever before, with the angry wah-buildup on Street Walkin, and the country vibe of My Last Mistake.

A lot of these ideas and flavors would be repeated on the band's 2010 release, Brothers. In many ways, this is a perfect bridge between Attack and Release and later releases. Get it if you like watching a songwriter grow.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2009
Just like the Black Keys, a two member band of folks my own age, gave me a reason to care about modern rock, Dan Auerbach's solo album gives me another reason. THe Key's latest, "Attack and Release," was a more polished sound, possibly a result of Danger Mouse from Gnarls Barkley producing it. This album reminds me of the Key's earlier days, when they recorded in a homemade studio in a basement. It's as if Auerbach took all of the good B-sides from that time and put them in a time capsule and is just beginning to open it. A lot of the songs are slower burning, mellower tunes than the Keys are used to, but that doesn't mean they're horrible.

You don't have to be a fan of blues or blues rock to enjoy, but if you like the classic guitars of Hendrix or any other guitar legend, get this album. Auerbach has already proved with the Keys he deserves to be in the halls of the guitar gods. With his solo album he adds another, deeper layer to his collection.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2009
Bought this on a whim after reading a review in BRM magazine. Thanks!
This is truly an instant classic. I forsee myself popping this in at every BBQ. Driving to it along the highway this summer with the top down. And years from now, looking for it to pull out for a new lover to listen to.

Sounds like Creedence with dashes of Buddy Guy (especially #2), Skynrd, Spencer Davis Group throw in for good measure. Perfectly seasoned taste of dirty blues/folk/rock. Thanks Dan for making this classic for us to enjoy. Rock on!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2009
I'm not a follower of The Black Keys, so I never thought I would pay much attention to what either half of the group would offer upon a solo venture. Glad I was wrong, as after I tripped upon Dan Auerbach's recent release Keep It Hid, my initial feeling is that it has to receive some sort of award. About a dozen or so listens I'm more convinced than ever.

Contrary to any first impressions one may have about the guy, Auerbach is more than just a talented guitarist, lyricist, or musician. Any other "breaking-the-mold", young talent's career would jump the shark with a release such as this, for it's that consistent and full of quality. But with Auerbach, it seems that Keep it Hid isn't that big of a deal, it's just a bunch of songs thrown together until the next big project comes along. It's pretty clear though that it could be the start of an epic solo career with a bar beginning where most can only hope to achieve when they call it a day. It's really that powerful.

Auerbach's method is doubtless, based in the blues-rooted rock n' roll, the amped up and wailing American sound one would hear ranging from the hot, muddy south to the elevated tones of Jimi Hendrix. Truth is, Keep it Hid has a heavy dose of blues, rock and soul all mixed into one pulsating explosion of a record. Auerbach does everything on the record, and despite his masterful, resonating guitarmanship, his voice does not get drowned out in the heavy rhythm.

Take your pick, as nearly every song can be a hit single. From Real Desire to the driving and yes, perfect My Last Mistake, Auerbach can't miss. Only one song seems out of place for me on this one. When the Night Comes seems a little too meek in comparison to the heavy hitters, which is pretty much everything else. Other favorites are definitely Mean Monsoon, I Want Some More, Heartbroken, In Disrepair, The Prowl, and Trouble Weighs a Ton. For those looking for hard-nosed, soul-filled rock n' roll, Keep It Hid will deliver.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2015
I bought this album on somewhat of a whim. I've heard some a few songs from it in the past. I listened through the entire album on Spotify while waiting for it to ship. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'd recommend it to anyone, no matter what their taste in music may be. There's plenty of variety in the album and each song is beautifully constructed.

The second time I listened through the album, I was driving. I enjoy listening to music most when I'm driving. It seems to enhance the music and I can absorb it more, so to speak. When "Whispered Words" came on, it had an effect on me that I've never had from music before. I've never been touched so deeply by a song. Some time into the song, I felt as though I should pull over. I can't explain what the feeling was. I suppose I became so connected with and lost in the song that I felt uncomfortable driving. Ever since that experience, this album has become special to me. In comparison to the other music I own, it's not just "putting on an album", it's something more than that.
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on September 14, 2014
I just recently got into collecting vinyl LP's. This album is my first purchase for vinyl. I can say without a doubt that I absolutely love it! You can argue all day about what form of this or any album sounds better on vinyl or cd. For me being the music lover that I am I am getting into vinyl because of the romance of it. I like going over to the record player, putting on the record, and listening to the entire thing. It is for that reason I will only buy vinyl albums that I think or know will be good. Dan Auerbach does not disappoint. This day and age you can download or listen to this album somewhere on the internet to see if you like the material. I already had a few of his songs downloaded off of iTunes, and I am a big Black Keys fan.

As far as what sounds better, the CD or the vinyl, I am not the expert on, nor do I have the very best equipment to make that judgment for you. The cool thing about this and any vinyl album is that for music lovers, this is something you can hold in your hand, it is artwork, and it is fun to put it on and listen to. Because of the nature of records, they will be around for years to come. My dad has records from the 1930's that were in a steamer trunk in his garage that still play today. CD's are very good sound quality wise, but are basically office supplies. Have you ever heard an artist sing about their CD collection?

If it will make you feel any better, the vinyl LP does come with a CD and a download from amazon mp3 for the entire album!
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on October 23, 2012
what can i say, many would think is similar to the black keys albums, it is, but at the same time is not. It is similar in the way that the blues-R&B rhythms are kept in the essence of the entire album, but is different in the fact that Dan Auerbach wanted not to re-create The Black Keys core sound, and instead of that, he experiments with some different techniques in the composition by using some different delay effects and other guitar effects, as well as using acoustic guitar to make very calm nostalgic songs (as the introducing first song 'Trouble weighs a ton'). And not mentioning that in this time, he has the collaboration of a entire set of great musicians on bass, drums, keyboards, second guitar and other instruments - some of which are Dan's relatives and family - who fills the environment whit new fresh experimental bluesy songs.

But well, now the black keys are using back up musicians (on bass and keyboard) as well, but nontheless the style is quite different between the black keys - because of an element called Patrick Carney - and this Dan Auerbach's solo project. If you like the Black Keys, this album KEEP IT HID i bet you will dig.
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