Friday, December 26, 2008
When I first heard the Black Keys in high school, it was a sort of "FINALLY! JESUS! WHY IS NO ONE ELSE MAKING THIS MUSIC ALREADY?" moment.
Perfect, low-fi scuzz guitars, blooze-soaked beyond their years vocals and monster riffs, it was pretty much perfect for a blues/Hendrix/Zeppelin loving 17-year-old, and the band's run of three albums starting with the debut "The Big Come Up" through "Rubber Factory" are pretty much perfect still. Then came "Magic Potion," while solid, sounded like a band able to conjure its signature sound with a too-easy push of a button.
2008's "Attack and Release" was the groups first record to feature a producer besides drummer Patrick Carney, employing the knob-twirler of the moment Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley) to add swamp-soul synths in the back ground and otherwise act like a third member of the group. I still listed the album as one of my favorite records of '08, but frankly I was a bit disappointed. Danger Mouse might be wearing out his welcome, we'll see.
So when I heard Dan Auerbach (vocalist/guitar player) was going to release a self-produced solo disk this February (just 9 months after "Attack and Release") I was a little worried but mostly surprised. In the last few years Carney has started a record label that features ultra-obscure garage and avante guard acts, and is producing records all over the place. The fact that Auerbach is producing this himself, releasing it the Nonesuch label (not Carney's) and slid it under the radar until recently left me guessing. Is this going to be some backstabbing grasp for mainstream rock schlock? Thankfully, no. Three of the songs are available for listening on his myspace page, and they aren't that big a departure from his "Black Keys" tracks, and are in some ways stronger than some of the best on "Attack and Release." His production actually sounds closer to what I imagined Danger Mouses' would have on "Attack and Release." Anywho, it's an unexpected Black Keys bonus, even if it's missing Carney's floor-dropping backbeat. Let's hope this isn't the result of splitting tensions in the band.
Here are the myspace tracks for listen:
favorite is "Trouble Weighs a Ton"
Here is his label page, with the same tracks for sample: