It’s certainly tempting to write off Akron, Ohio-based group the Black Keys as another one of the seemingly hundreds of the garage rock bands that have sprung up over the last few years. They’ve already drawn many comparisons to the White Stripes, as their band has only two members, Dan Auerbach (guitar and vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). Yet when I walked into the Sahara tent at Coachella earlier this year, I was shocked to see only two men on stage, because it sounded like there was an entire army of instruments on stage. Between Auerbach’s wailing voice, his throaty lyrics and Carney’s ever-present pounding of the drums, they more than make up for the lack of band members.
On their third album, Rubber Factory, the Black Keys continue their militaristic assault on modern music. In “10 a.m. Automatic,” Auerbach questions the ever-changing demeanor of his significant other: “What about the night / Makes you change / From so sweet / To deranged?” The duo from Northeast Ohio even attempts a cover of the Kinks’ “Act Nice and Gentle.” Auerbach provides a nice walking bass line that feels like a stroll through the park, while Carney taps the drums in the background. Auerbach’s voice is one of the most unique in recent memory; at times it’s difficult to discern what is being said through the slurring sounds of Auerbach’s throat. But therein lies the band’s main appeal; the raw, unpolished sound gives the album its charm. Rubber Factory manages to bring the soul of the blues to indie rock, thanks in large part to Auerbach’s unique vocals and guitar.
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