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The Big Come Up

The Black Keys

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It’s incredible that a couple of young guys operating out of a basement in Ohio could generate this much sound and fury. On their first album, The Black Keys channel the groove-heavy juke-joint blues of the Mississippi hill country. Hardcore blues fans who don’t slavishly imitate, the Keys go for raw feeling over strict technical execution. Though they're a duo, they're not minimalists. The heavy bass in the guitar tone fills up space as Dan Auerbach’s dirty riffs squall from cheap amps on the verge of overload, his soulful growl making him sound twice his age. Patrick Carney is the engine, supplying hard-stomping, funky drumming to complement the filthy hooks. The unexpected hip-hop touches on “Breaks” and “240 Years Before Your Time,” the garage-rock cover of The Beatles’ “She Said, She Said,” and the R&B burners “Them Eyes” and “Yearnin’” offer variety without straying far from their roots. On this electrifying debut, The Black Keys put their gritty stamp on the blues and in the process stand apart from their peers.

Biography

Formed: 2001 in Akron, OH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

It's too facile to call the Black Keys counterparts of the White Stripes: they share several surface similarities — their names are color-coded, they hail from the Midwest, they're guitar-and-drum blues-rock duos — but the Black Keys are their own distinct thing, a tougher, rougher rock band with a purist streak that never surfaced in the Stripes. But that's not to say that the Black Keys are blues traditionalists: even on their 2002 debut, The Big Come Up, they covered the Beatles' psychedelic...
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The Big Come Up, The Black Keys
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