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Music: The Black Keys

"Asking the Black Keys 'Why do you play the blues so good?' would be like asking a cloud 'Why are you fluffy so good?' How the hell is someone supposed to answer that? It's like a Zen koan."
Brian J. Bowe, Creem Online

The Black Keys are a Grammy-winning Blues Rock band hailing from Akron, Ohio. While some of their albums have featured session musicians, the core band consists of only two members - Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). The band was formed in 2001, and have released the following albums:

  • The Big Come Up (2002)
  • Thickfreakness (2003)
  • Rubber Factory (2004)
  • Magic Potion (2006)
  • Attack and Release (2008)
  • Brothers (2010)
  • El Camino (2011)
  • Turn Blue (2014)

Early in the band's career, much media attention was placed on their raw, minimalistic style (the result of a recording technique euphemistically referred to as "medium-fidelity", described by the band as "equal parts broke-ass shit to equal parts hot-ass shit.") Since Attack and Release, however, their sound has been a bit more expansive, adding more sonic detail while keeping the band's Blues Rock sound front and center.The music video for "Howlin' For You" is so troperrific that it now has its own page.


The Black Keys provide examples of:

  • Bad To The Bone: Their songs see a lot of use in movie trailers.
  • Badass Beard: Dan.
  • Badass Boast: "The Baddest Man Alive", as you might guess from the title, consists of nothing but this and Boastful Rap courtesy of RZA.
  • Big Rock Ending
  • Chiaroscuro: The front cover of The Big Come Up.
  • Cover Album: Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough
  • Covers Always Lie: The vehicle pictured on the cover of El Camino is NOT an El Camino.
  • Cover Version: Almost every Black Keys album, save for Magic Potion, Attack and Release, and El Camino, has included at least one cover.
  • Creator Breakdown: Brothers
  • Epic Rocking: "Weight of Love", the first song from Turn Blue, clocks in at 6:50 and is loaded with guitar solos.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The cover for Brothers reads, "This is an album by The Black Keys. The name of this album is Brothers." The album's singles follow suit.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Once requested to make a "placeholder video" for "Tighten Up" as a teaser for Brothers, the video director made one where the duo interacted with a puppet T. rex Frank the Funkasaurus, who returned for..
  • Fanservice \ Pool Scene: ...their video for "Next Girl".
  • Gratuitous Spanish:
    • In the "Howlin' For You" video, the band is referred to as Las Teclas de Negro.
    • El Camino.
  • Instrumentals: "Black Mud," which was nominated for a Grammy.
  • Insult Backfire: They infamously decried Nickelback, but in the process called them "The biggest band in the world." This is not really an insult.
  • Long Runner Line Up: Category 1 (not counting session/tour musicians).
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Brothers has nothing but text on a black background reading "This is an album by The Black Keys. The name of this album is Brothers."The cover design won a Grammy.
  • Nerd Glasses: Pat wears them.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Attack and Release, due largely to the involvement of Danger Mouse.
    • Brothers emphasized elements of soul music while rolling back Attack And Release's psychadelia somewhat.
    • With Danger Mouse back on board, El Camino adds backing instruments and backing singers, stretching somewhat away from the Garage Rock "drummer-and-guitarist/singer" rock duo sound.
    • According to early reviews, Turn Blue turns back towards Psychedelic Rock while also leaning toward Rap Rock.
  • Real Trailer, Fake Movie: The video for "Howlin' For You"
  • Record Producer: Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) produced Attack and Release and El Camino as well as "Tighten Up" from Brothers. In recent years, Auerbach has become an in-demand producer himself.
  • The Rival: The White Stripes, appropriately enough. Another blues-based duo with a name inspired by piano keys.
    • Made all the more real when Jack White's emails leaked in 2013 containing several undiplomatic statements about them.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Patrick Carney has a really foul mouth, especially when he's trash-talking other people or artists. However, he also seems to do it a lot even when he isn't expressing disdain for anything in particular, so it's definitely not limited to just those situations.
  • Something Completely Different:
    • The video for "10 A.M. Automatic" begins with a Rabbi hosting a scripture show on Ohio Public Access, finishing his point and then casually transitioning to "and now, here's the Black Keys". Pan left to the band already set up on the stage.
    • Blakroc a collaboration between well known hip hop artists and the Black Keys. Released to generally positive reviews.
  • Three Chords and the Truth


Bad CompanyBlues RockBlue Cheer
Bitter RuinAlternative IndieBlack Light Burns
Black Label SocietyTurnOfTheMillennium/MusicThe Black Eyed Peas
The Black Eyed PeasThe New Tensblink-182

alternative title(s): The Black Keys
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