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Alternative & Indie - Released December 5, 2011 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 2, 2011 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks
Picking up on the ‘60s soul undercurrent of Brothers, the Black Keys smartly capitalize on their 2010 breakthrough by plunging headfirst into retro-soul on El Camino. Savvy operators that they are, the Black Keys don’t opt for authenticity à la Sharon Jones or Eli “Paperboy” Reed: they bring Danger Mouse back into the fold, the producer adding texture and glitter to the duo’s clean, lean songwriting. Apart from “Little Black Submarines,” an acoustic number that crashes into Zeppelin heaviosity as it reaches its coda, every one of the 11 songs here clocks in under four minutes, adding up to a lean 38-minute rock & roll rush, an album that’s the polar opposite of the Black Keys’ previous collaboration with Danger Mouse, the hazy 2008 platter Attack & Release. That purposely drifted into detours, whereas El Camino never takes its eye off the main road: it barrels down the highway, a modern motor in its vintage body. Danger Mouse adds glam flair that doesn’t distract from the songs, all so sturdily built they easily accommodate the shellacked layers of cheap organs, fuzz guitars, talk boxes, backing girls, tambourines, foot stomps, and handclaps. Each element harks back to something from the past -- there are Motown beats and glam rock guitars -- but everything is fractured through a modern prism: the rhythms have swing, but they’re tight enough to illustrate the duo’s allegiance to hip-hop; the gleaming surfaces are postmodern collages, hinting at collective aural memories. All this blurring of eras is in the service of having a hell of a good time. More than any other Black Keys album, El Camino is an outright party, playing like a collection of 11 lost 45 singles, each one having a bigger beat or dirtier hook than the previous side. What’s being said doesn’t matter as much as how it’s said: El Camino is all trash and flash and it’s highly addictive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 17, 2010 | V2 Cooperative Music

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Retreating from the hazy Danger Mouse-fueled pot dream of Attack & Release, the Black Keys headed down to the legendary Muscle Shoals, recording their third album on their own and dubbing it Brothers. The studio, not to mention the artwork patterned after such disregarded Chess psychedelic-era relics as This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album, are good indications that the tough blues band of the Black Keys earliest records is back, but the group hasn’t forgotten what they’ve learned in their inwardly psychedelic mid-period. Brothers still can get mighty trippy -- the swirling chintzy organ that circles “The Only One,” the Baroque harpsichord flair of “Too Afraid to Love You” -- but the album is built with blood and dirt, so its wilder moments remain gritty without being earthbound. Sonically, that scuffed-up spaciness -- the open air created by the fuzz guitars and phasing, analog keyboards, and cavernous drums -- is considerably appealing, but the Black Keys' ace in the hole remains the exceptional songwriting that Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are so good at. They twist a Gary Glitter stomp into swamp fuzz blues, steal a title from Archie Bell & the Drells but never reference that classic Tighten Up groove, and approximate a slow ‘60s soul crawl on “Unknown Brother” before following it up with a version of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and it’s nearly impossible to tell which is the cover. And that’s the great thing about the Black Keys in general and Brothers in particular: the past and present intermingle so thoroughly that they blur, yet there’s no affect, just three hundred pounds of joy. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 9, 2012 | Nonesuch

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 28, 2019 | Nonesuch

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Dan and Pat have been writing the handbook for rock’n’roll for almost 20 years. A decade after leaving their hometown Akron in Ohio for Nashville, the Black Keys have produced Let’s Rock, a sort of return to the roots of original classic rock that pays homage to the electric guitar from the very first minute to the very last. In other words, the title of the album says it all. After both having worked with various other musicians, the pair have accepted one another’s infidelities and are back together. Dan Auerbach founded the Easy Eye Sound label named after his studio in Nashville, released his second solo album, Waiting on a Song, and produced a fine selection of albums for Yola, Shannon & The Clams, Dee White, Sonny Smith, Robert Finley and Gibson Brothers. Meanwhile, Pat Carney produced and recorded music with Calvin Johnson Michelle Branch, Tobias Jesso, Jr., Jessy Wilson, Tennis, Repeat Repeat, Wild Belle, Sad Planets Turbo Fruits and many more, and last but not least, he wrote the theme-song for BoJack Horseman on Netflix. After this success, Auerbach admits that it felt like the perfect time for their reunion, “That period really cleared my mind, and it made it so much more enjoyable when I got back together with Pat, because we’d had all that time off. I feel like the record is a testament to that feeling”.Let’s Rock revisits all the great big seventies guitar sounds that the duo admire. A vast array ranges from Glenn Schwartz and Joe Walsh from James Gang to Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and Stealers Wheel (Sit Around and Miss You is very similar to Stuck in the Middle With You), T. Rex, Link Wray (Polydor period), Blue Öyster Cult and many more. “I didn’t want to overthink it” adds Auerbach. “I wanted it to feel spontaneous. I wanted to be able to record something not dissimilar to ‘Louie Louie’ and be perfectly happy with it. I was looking for the Troggs!”. “Funny, I was looking for the Stooges ‘Down on the Street’”, laughs Carney, who insists on his love for “big and dumb songs. They’re my favourite. I think on this record Dan and I came to a similar place in terms of what we wanted.  I was sitting in my studio for the last year just playing electric guitar, and for the first time in a while, Dan was playing a lot of electric guitar. The record is like a homage to electric guitar [..] We took a simple approach and trimmed all the fat like we used to”. All that now remains is the meat, the best bit! © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 12, 2014 | Nonesuch

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Like corporate drones determined to cut loose every third Friday whether they need to or not, the Black Keys take the time to schedule semi-regular journeys into the unknown. Turn Blue, the 2014 successor to their down-and-dirty international blockbuster El Camino, is one of those trips, a churning psychedelic excursion that slowly pulses in any color you like. Those colors spread out slow and low as Turn Blue gets underway via "Weight of Love," sounding not at all unlike Pink Floyd's "Breathe in the Air," a deliberate comparison the Keys return to often throughout the album, letting it decorate fleeting moments and infuse full songs ("Bullet in the Brain," the first single pulled from the LP, hits many of the same notes). Floyd looked to space but, like the Ohio natives that they are, the Black Keys' concerns are earthbound. Dan Auerbach primarily sings songs about love lost and won, sprinkling in a little bit of lust along the way, and he and Patrick Carney certainly share a love of soul and groove, something that's rarely heard in music as trippy as this. Time and time again throughout Turn Blue, the Black Keys and Danger Mouse turn toward those rhythms without abandoning the psychedelic swirl that gives the album its distinctive flavor. Unlike 2008's Attack & Release -- the last time the Black Keys decided to get out, way out (and not coincidentally their first collaboration with Danger Mouse) -- this has momentum, a drive provided by those heavy rhythms (they escalate so much, "10 Lovers" flirts with glitter-ball disco) and sheets of outsized fuzz guitars that cut through the haze. Songs stretch out longer here than they have on any previous Black Keys LP, but this doesn't feel indulgent due to the precision of the production; things may seem to drift but every bit of fuzz and echo is in its right place. Initially, this immaculately shaded production draws attention to itself but, in time, Turn Blue reveals that underneath its surface flash it's a quietly adventurous and substantive record. The Black Keys retain their fascination with southern soul of the late '60s -- the title track is coolly insinuating, "Fever" stomps and shakes -- but where El Camino pushed these retro-fantasies to the center, they're merely the bones of this record, the solid structure upon which the band and Danger Mouse choose to expand. Although the closing "Gotta Get Away"-- its title borrowed from both the Rolling Stones and the Impressions but the song sounds like neither group -- illustrates how good the duo is when they keep things grounded in the garage, the rest of Turn Blue impresses because it does what all great bands should do: it captures a band stretching while always sounding like themselves. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released March 31, 2008 | [PIAS] Cooperative

Back in 2002, it seemed easy to discern which of the Midwestern minimalist blues-rock duos was which: the White Stripes were the art-punks, naming albums after Dutch art movements, while the Black Keys were the nasty primitives, bashing out thrilling, raw records like their 2002 debut The Big Come Up and its 2003 follow-up Thickfreakness. Six years later, the duos appear to have switched camps, as Jack White leads the Stripes down a path of obstinate traditionalism while the Black Keys get out, way out, on their fifth album, Attack & Release. Evidently, their 2004 mini-masterpiece Rubber Factory represented the crest of their brutal blues wave, as ever since singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney have receded from the gnarled precision of their writing and the big, brutal blues thump, they started to float into the atmosphere with their 2006 EP-length tribute to Junior Kimbrough, Chulahoma. Ever since then, the Black Keys have emphasized waves of sound over either ballast or song, something that should be evident from the choice of Danger Mouse as the producer of Attack & Release, a seemingly unlikely pair that found common ground in the form of Ike Turner. Danger Mouse worked with the rock & roll renegade when he produced the Gorillaz's Demon Days and the plan was to have the Black Keys cut an album with Ike but Turner's death turned the project into a full-fledged Keys album. That's the official story, anyway, but the timeline doesn't quite seem to fit -- Ike died December 12, 2007 and a finished copy of Attack & Release was out in February, which is an awfully short turnaround to complete an album -- nor does the sound of the album seem to fit that timeline, either, as it's elliptical, open-ended, and reliant on the spacy sonics the Black Keys have sketched out since Rubber Factory, so it's hard to imagine where Turner would have fit into this. But it's not hard at all to see how avant guitarist Marc Ribot fits into this elastic mix, as this is the kind of restless, textural roots-aware rock reminiscent of the spirit, if not quite the sound, of Elvis Costello and Tom Waits, two mavericks Ribot has played with in years past. This shift to sound over song has been so gradual for the Black Keys that Ribot's cameo doesn't seem intrusive, nor does Danger Mouse's hazy production feel forced upon the band, it's filled with details so sly they're almost imperceptible. As always, Danger Mouse encourages the band to intensify what's already there, and so Attack & Release willfully drifts, as dreamy, artfully sonic sculptures are punctured by Auerbach's rumbling guitars and Carney's clattering drums. But where the interplay of the Auerbach and Carney always felt immediate in their earliest work, there's a bit of a remove here, with the riffs used as paint brushes instead of blunt objects. The same can be said of the songs, where even the most immediate tunes -- "Psychotic Girl," the B-side "Remember When" -- don't grab and hold like those on the group's earliest records, and they're not really growers either, as the point here is not the individual tunes but rather the greater picture, as everything here weaves together to create a mood: one that shifts but doesn't stray, one that's nebulous but not formless, one that's evocative but not haunting. To be sure, it's an accomplishment and one that showcases the Black Keys' deepening skills but at times it's hard not to miss how the duo used to grab a listener by the neck and not let go. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 7, 2019 | Nonesuch

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 1, 2016 | Fat Possum

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 18, 2010 | [PIAS] Cooperative

Retreating from the hazy Danger Mouse-fueled pot dream of Attack & Release, the Black Keys headed down to the legendary Muscle Shoals, recording their third album on their own and dubbing it Brothers. The studio, not to mention the artwork patterned after such disregarded Chess psychedelic-era relics as This Is Howlin’ Wolf’s New Album, are good indications that the tough blues band of the Black Keys earliest records is back, but the group hasn’t forgotten what they’ve learned in their inwardly psychedelic mid-period. Brothers still can get mighty trippy -- the swirling chintzy organ that circles “The Only One,” the Baroque harpsichord flair of “Too Afraid to Love You” -- but the album is built with blood and dirt, so its wilder moments remain gritty without being earthbound. Sonically, that scuffed-up spaciness -- the open air created by the fuzz guitars and phasing, analog keyboards, and cavernous drums -- is considerably appealing, but the Black Keys' ace in the hole remains the exceptional songwriting that Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are so good at. They twist a Gary Glitter stomp into swamp fuzz blues, steal a title from Archie Bell & the Drells but never reference that classic Tighten Up groove, and approximate a slow ‘60s soul crawl on “Unknown Brother” before following it up with a version of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and it’s nearly impossible to tell which is the cover. And that’s the great thing about the Black Keys in general and Brothers in particular: the past and present intermingle so thoroughly that they blur, yet there’s no affect, just three hundred pounds of joy. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 25, 2019 | Nonesuch

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 11, 2006 | [PIAS] Cooperative

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 1, 2016 | Fat Possum

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 16, 2019 | Nonesuch

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World - Released February 20, 2016 | Coqueiro Verde Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 2, 2006 | Fat Possum

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 9, 2014 | Nonesuch

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 26, 2011 | Nonesuch

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2013 | V2 Cooperative Music

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 10, 2010 | V2 Cooperative Music

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The Black Keys in the magazine