Customer Reviews: Thickfreakness
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on April 19, 2004
The Black Keys are two guys from the American mid-west, hard as it to believe that only two people make this thick, rich audio gumbo. They play the blues, post-modern blues with licks of psychedelia and rockabilly, white mid-west blues, punk blues. They write original music, even though you'll swear some of those songs have got to be fifty or sixty years old. Can two white kids from Akron, Ohio play the blues with anything like conviction? Oh, yeah.
Patrick Carney plays drums, and he plays them heavy, the kick-drum thuds into your stomach, the cymbals are muted like they're coated with years of cigarette smoke from greasy clubs and roadhouses. This guy ain't a showoff drummer, he's a hold down the groove until you find yourself breathing in time sort of drummer.
Dan Auerbach plays guitar like he's stringing barbed wire, through an old Ampeg amplifier that is one gig short of meltdown. And he sings like he's done time in Mississippi jails, impossible, this guy is in his early twenties, where did he get the chops to stream that kind of pain through his voice? Can he write a blues lyric? "She want to get out the car, in the middle of the road, her screamin' and hollerin', it's getting mighty old," yup, he can.
This album reeks of cigarette smoke and beer and gasoline fumes, the whole tone reminds me of Exile on Main Street, it's gritty and earthy, three a.m. blues when the band is past caring about the audience and just playing their pain away.
So, The Black Keys, with a guitarist who sounds like he's channeling Elmore James and a drummer who sounds like an idling Chevy 327 with bad lifters are now on Fat Possum records, the real deal. Their music is thick enough to chew, it tips its hat to all the right forefathers(...).
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on June 5, 2003
I bought this album based on a great review it got, and I now think the reviewer undersold it. This is the best album I've heard this year, and I'm not a big blues fan. It's hard to believe that this rich, blues/rock that seems to fill every space is the product of a 2-man band. Dan Auerbach is an amazing guitarist whose low-gear playing more than takes the place of a bassist. His gin-laced voice is the perfect complement to his infectious rhythms. While I can't find a B-side on the album, "Set You Free" and "No Trust" are particularly rocking pieces that will have you singing along wondering who needs 4 guys in a band. And don't expect any "my dog left me"-boo-hoo blues - this is a wall of sound with driving guitar and screaming vocals. Simply put, it is what all blues should be: dangerous and yet grooving. You'll wear out your speakers listening to this, trust me.
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on August 5, 2003
Whoever said that the Black Keys are like the White Stripes is going on the fact that both have only two members.
The Black Keys are on the Fat Possum record label, one that deals with legendary bluesmen like R.L. Burnside, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Junior Kimbrough, and Solomon Burke. It shows too. The Black Keys play dirty, nitty gritty blues, drawing from all of the aformentioned at Fat Possum. Thickfreakness was recorded in the same manner as any R.L. Burnside; it is very raw and rough around the edges. The Black Keys were going for this sound in their blues because it adds character and a certain element of, "wow, this is bad-...". Basically, it fits the label.
Thickfreakness isn't completely original, some of the songs are covers (including one of Mississippi Fred McDowell's). That doesn't mean it is not a good album--look at the North Mississippi Allstars's record "Shake Hands With Shorty". It won them a Grammy and yet almost every single song was a cover from a bluesman on the Fat Possum label. They took the standard blues and made it their own, something that I believe the Black Keys have done well. The singer/ guitarist has the voice of Warren Haynes and a true mastery of the guitar that the White Stripes simply don't have. The drummer is excellent too.
But now you're saying, "Wait, the White Stripes have blues too". They do. You will hear some of the same Zeppelin-esque sound in both of the bands. The Stripes are built on Zeppelin and punk, but the Keys are built on Fat Possum and Zeppelin. If you like the blues, Thickfreakness is just for you. If you're expecting something a little more punk like the White Stripes, you may be dissapointed. I think that most anyone who has enjoyed listening to the delta blues, Zeppelin, or the Stones should enjoy this album tremendously.
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on April 25, 2003
According to one report I read, guitarist Dan Auerbach headed down to Oxford Mississippi to spend a day playing with T-Model Ford and he has been hooked on blues ever since. Auerbach and his drummer Patrick Carney are not your usual Mississippi Hills bluesmen. Both men are young and white and don't give you the impression that they have paid their dues so to speak. But that aside, their brand of Delta blues crosses any racial boundary and is as raw and good as anything else coming from the Hills. "Thickfrealness" is the pairs sophomore release and, if you haven't heard this band, it is will serve as a fine introduction to the Keys. The CD features a nice mix of covers and originals including the late Junior Kimbrough's "Everywhere I Go".
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on April 19, 2004
At the risk of just echoing previous reviews, I feel that it is necessicary to emphasize what a breath of fresh air the Black Keys are. Well, that's an ironic way of saying it, becuase this album will have you feeling like your sitting at a table in whatever smokey, dirty bar the Black Keys are playing at tonight. At a time when Emo and other soft, cookie cutter "rock-and-roll" groups are dominating the charts, it's refreshing to know that there is a band out there that still wants to make music, not just money. The black keys are that to a T. They are all the hype. They prove on this album that two talented musicians are better than four or five uncreative hacks. In this era of subwoofers and bass emphasized music, you won't miss the lack of a bass guitar on this album. For anyone who either misses, or is sorry they missed, the era of Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zepplin, and George Thorogood, your second chance has come along. IF you buy this album, you WILL like it, if you like real music. You don't have to like the blues, or classic rock, or any genre in particular. You just have to like listening to two talented guys enjoy what they're doing on their instuments.
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on April 5, 2005
This is an incredible album by the Akron, Ohio blues duo, The Black Keys. When I say blues, I don't mean Stevie Ray Vaughn or Robert Clay or any of these new artists who try to modernize blues. I mean, old blues. Like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and the legendary Robert Johnson. These guys emulate from the masters and make it their own sound. They also have an early Led Zeppelin sound with them, such as the case with the title track. Dan Auerbach's voice sounds like it came straight out of Louisana, and it definetly shows on all of the tracks. Patrick Carney's drumming is very good and at times, reminds me of the beats of DJ Shadow. There are some great songs here too. "Set You Free" has a awesome riff, and "Everywhere I Go" is a long blues jam done outside of the 12-bar blues format. Great stuff. Get it if you love blues or if you're a first timer.
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on August 15, 2006
This appears to be a new direction for the Blues. Any young fans seeing this duo live may not really comprehend that their sound is vintage. These young guys must've listened hard to their parents Blues records and they've put together a funky combo that reminds me of everybody from Fred McDowell to Canned Heat. Obviously the Jr. Kimbrough/RL Burnside influence is strong on all of their CD's. Their sound is a fitting tribute to all the Blues legends. Simple but effective riffs to their songs.Some of the songs also will remind you of Hendrix, JL Hooker or Blind Willie Johnson. "Set You Free" recalls the raw punkiness of 60's bands like the Sir Douglas Quintet or The Kingsmens "Louie, Louie". The title track has that dirty, swamp feel of some of CCR's hits. Whatever their influences they've made the sound their own and they are a fiiting addition to the inspirational Fat Possum label.
It's all wonderfully raw!! I think this is the way Blues should be played.. stripped down with no over production.
The lead singer, Dan Auerbach, sounds at times like a distorted Bob Hite, other times like Lowell George...his voice is stunning, reminiscent of Mississipi Hill musicians and belies his young age.
Every one of their CD's is worth purchasing as there are great tracks on all of them. For just the two of them they make a BIG sound.
A great example of what can happen when youngsters go "backwards' to vintage blues in order to go forward with a re-packaged sound for the 21st century.
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on July 7, 2011
When Brothers came out, I was moderately impressed. But that was my introduction to the Black Keys. I didn't buy the album of Brothers, but instead individual tracks. But Thickfreakness is awesome. It's gritty (sounds like the entire album was recorded in a dank bar with 12 people in it and a waitress that doesn't want to be there), funky (there are times where it sounds like Jimmy Hendrix was a strong influence), and really fun to listen to. If you are driving and listening to this, it will be impossible to not play drums on the steering wheel - impossible.
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on September 11, 2004
The Black Keys are not your average blues band. They are made up of two white guys from Akron, Ohio. Do not let that fool you though. These guys got soul. Guitar and drums are the only instruments, and with the sound they have, they do not need anything more. The music is pure, gritty, energy. The album sounds like it was recorded in a garage. It is a thirty-eight minute assault on the ears, in a good way.

The twenty-two-year-old singer has the voice of a forty-year-old straight out of Mississippi. He has the moan of a man that has seen nothing but heartbreak and hard liquor. The drumming is genius in its simplicity and the guitar sounds broken down and grungy. It is the essence of the blues genre. It is good to see a band like this bringing back the blues. The blues seems to be a forgotten genre in music today and the Keys are definitely opening some eyes.

The Black Keys have been compared to The White Stripes, but they have a completely different sound, and in my opinion, a better sound. The only similarity that The Black Keys have with The White Stripes is that they are both two piece bands, and that they have colors in their names.

If you are looking to branch out from the popular bands like the White Stripes and you like the sound of guitar and drums, I suggest The Black Keys. If you want to start listening to blues music but do not know where to start, I suggest The Black Keys. They are like a gateway drug into the world of the blues.

The album is made up of songs you would expect to hear in a dive bar. Smoke-filled, packed with drunks, and Thickfreakness on the jukebox. That is where you picture yourself when listening to this CD. It features a great remake of the blues classic "Have Love, Will Travel" that will blow some minds. If you doubt their blues ability, this one song will change your view on its own. Also, the title track is a great way to open the disc. It explodes right away and oozes with the blues-rock feel that is present throughout the album. It makes you want to continue listening to see what these guys are all about. It has great guitar work and a solid drum beat along with lyrics that are so slurred they do not sound like words at all, but it all adds to the vibe and the greatness that is The Black Keys.

So if you are looking for a new band that does not sound new, look into The Black Keys. If you are looking for an album to listen to at a party, listen to Thickfreakness. If you are looking for an album to listen to by yourself and just relax to, Thickfreakness is good for that too. It is a great album all around for any mood. The Black Keys are an original band without being in your face with their originality. They brought back a genre that has faded away from the music scene today and I commend them for that. This may be the beginning of a "Blues Revolution", so check The Keys out before the explosion begins.
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on May 15, 2006
This is without question the best CD I have bought in years!!! I have had it for 48 hours and have listened to it over a dozen times and turned at least 6 other people into fans!!Buy this CD and try to play it only once. These songs will stay with you for hours after listening, that is if you can go hours without cranking it back up. If you like any form of the Blues this is a MUST have CD. I will sum it up with Raw, Nasty ,Grimy and powerful a 2 man band should not make this much sound!!!! Buy IT Now!!!
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