The Black Keys: Dan Auerbach (vocals, guitar); Patrick Carney (drums).
Principally recorded at Studio 45, Akron, Ohio.
Personnel: Dan Auerbach (vocals, guitar); Patrick Carney (drums).
Audio Mixer: Patrick Carney.
Recording information: Studio 45, Akron, OH (12/2002); Studio 880 (12/2002).
While the vast majority of post-punk bands who have an obvious taste for the blues seem to enjoy taking the style apart and messing around with the bits and pieces, the Black Keys are the (relative) traditionalists within the subgenre. With their two-piece, no-bass format, there's no room for clutter or wank, and the raunchy fuzz of Dan Auerbach's guitar (and drummer Patrick Carney's production) owes more to the Gories/Blues Explosion/White Stripes school of aural grime than anything else, but look past all that and the Black Keys are a straight-up blues band who could probably cut an album for Alligator if they were willing to clean up their act and fill out the lineup. And Alligator would doubtless be glad to have 'em -- the Black Keys's wail is hot, primal, and heartfelt, and Auerback's lean but meaty guitar lines and room-filling vocals drag the blues into the 21st century through sheer force of will without sounding like these guys are in any way mocking their influences. In short, if you're looking for irony, you're out of luck; if you want to hear a rock band confront the blues with soul, muscle, and respect, then Thickfreakness is right up your alley. Points added for the fact that the Black Keys performed, recorded, and produced Thickfreakness all by their lonesome in a single day -- further proof these guys are not messing around. ~ Mark Deming
Rolling Stone (4/17/03, p.103) - 3 stars out of 5 - "Ohio's Black Keys specialize in a sort of garage blues--abbreviated gasps of vocal hurt, feedback-y guitar and unhinged snares..."
Q (01/01/04, p.76) - Ranked #31 in Q's "The 50 Best Albums of 2003" - "[A] sweaty, thrilling delight, with songs dipped in tar..."
Mojo (Publisher) (01/01/04, p.56) - Ranked #40 in Mojo's "The Best of 2003" - "Like Free jamming with Jon Spencer, this is a gnarled, righteous triumph."
How do two guys manage to make such a big sound? And it's not just studio trickery because they sound like this live, too. A bit heavier than the bluesy debut, "Thickfreakness" is as genuine as any modern take on the blues can get. Dan's vocals and guitar work weave together in a call-and-response like manner, while Pat lays into his kit like man possessed. Highly recommended.
The Black Keys second indie-rock/blues album is al faultless as the first. The opener “Thickfreakness” sets the tone to the album being tracks full or guitar fuzz swagger in the new but greatly influenced by traditional blues sound…. If there is one. This album is a respite from all the samey sounding 70’s and 80’s enthused music out there at the moment.
This is my favourite Black Keys album - it is a hard-edged knife of blues and rock with a mix of fast loud songs and slower, smoother ones. The Black Keys in general draw from the sounds of bands like Cream and are extremely effective as a two-piece band. There are some unforgettable tracks here like 'Midnight in her eyes', 'Have Love with Travel' and 'Hard Row'. This is rock music at its most pure - two men, an electric guitar and a drum kit.
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