Artist Profile: The Black Keys

2/08/2010 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Megan O'Malley

The Black Keys are an Akron, Ohio based duo with a penchant for hard rock and roll. Their rollicking sound is something that usually takes four or five people to create. The duo consists of guitarist and singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney. Their name comes from a schizophrenic artist friend of theirs from Ohio; he used the term “black keys” to describe things or people he didn’t like or trust. They formed their group in 2001, bringing otherworldly bluesy rock to the masses.

In 2002, the Black Keys released their debut album, "The Big Come Up," and with it, the world was introduced to their low-fidelity sound. As a part of their artistic integrity, the Black Keys refuse to use big-time studio equipment. Instead they tend to record, produce and mix down the albums themselves.

For example, their second album, "Thickfreakness," was recorded over 14 straight hours in 2002. According to the Web site, Last.FM, it was recorded in “Carney’s basement, using only an early '80s Tascam 388 8-track recorder. Often, their recordings still have background noises (such as an owl hooting).” This distinct sound makes their albums instantly recognizable and an enjoyable listen. All in all, they have released seven studio albums, the latest being "Attack and Release" in 2008. They have also worked on a number of collaborations, including 2009’s "Blackroc." At one point, the Black Keys were set to collaborate with Danger Mouse and Ike Turner, but during the initial stages of the album, Ike unexpectedly passed away. The group continued to work with Danger Mouse, though, and he produced "Attack and Release." They will have a new album out in April of this year.

Throughout their seven albums, the Black Keys have received widely acclaimed commercial success. The group has been featured on the show “Entourage,” in a Victoria Secret commercial, and they were named one of the best new acts of 2003 by “Rolling Stone.” They have also toured with Beck, Slater-Kinney, Radiohead and most recently, Liam Finn. Among their critical successes, the Black Keys boast famous followers, including Robert Plant and Thom Yorke.

The Black Keys have taken the genre of bluesy rock and made it their own. The gritty sound gives them an edge over many other rock acts out their and, as a result, they have won the respect of their peers and listeners alike.

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