What we’re listening to (#10): ‘The Big Come Up’ by the Black Keys

Before this Ohio based rock duo became famous worldwide, they recorded their debut album on an 8-track tape recorder and released it in 2002 – this was before they started to dabble with synths and electronic music, and the result is a just over half an hour long injection of unadulterated garage blues (with about 20 minutes of silence prior to this eclectic trip).

Dan Auerbach has a voice which will make you do a double take when you realize that its not a 40-something year old blues singer from the 60s – yes, the lyrics aren’t going to blow you away, but the passion with which they are sung might. This is especially apparent in “I’ll Be Your Man”. The guitar takes a bit of backseat in this track, especially after the power of the two tracks which came before it, but it’s still a great piece nonetheless.

In “Breaks”, however, the guitar slaps you in the face after a little sampling, and you can hear the one of the band’s influences unmistakably – a very Hendrix-like explosion of guitar.

Patrick Carney’s drums are the icing on the metaphorical cake, keeping all the tracks from running wild and forging their own paths – their sloppy nature reminds you that this isn’t some highbrow composition that you’re listening to, but not to the extent that he’s doing it on purpose to add on to the lo-fi sound. Carney’s drumming is perhaps the thing that remained constant throughout the Black Keys’ consequent records (bar Turn Blue) – in ‘Leavin’ Trunk’ I almost felt as if the whole track was going to fall apart to be honest, and it reminded a bit of the drumming from the earlier White Stripes albums (though a fair bit more complex, no offence to Meg White).

This article was written by Mo Hafeez

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