Though the Black Keys resemble post-punk garage revivalists like the White Stripes, and are likely to raise an eyebrow among old-school blues purists, the duo packs a serious blues punch. The minimal sound of RUBBER FACTORY moves on the rickety skeleton of Dan Auerbach's fuzzed-out guitar and Patrick Carney's no-frills drumming, and stays true to the raw, electric blues for which the Fat Possum label (the Black Keys' home) is rightfully famous.
RUBBER FACTORY bears the ghosts of Fat Possum artists like Junior Kimbrough and CeDell Davis, and through them, naturally, electric pioneers like Muddy Waters. The Keys mine this tradition admirably, with a sincere approach to the blues idiom bolstered by Auerbach's soulful vocals and the duo's stripped-down, juke-joint sound. But the Keys are not merely paying homage. Instead, they layer funky grooves ("The Desperate Man"), NUGGETS-inspired grunge ("10 A.M. Automatic"), a love of 1970s hard rock ("Grown So Ugly"), and the influence of contemporary indie rock (the acoustic "The Lengths") on their blues structures. In doing so, they achieve a ragged hybrid that stays fiercely true to the roots of blues, while updating the genre for younger generations.
Rolling Stone (p.186) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[H]igh-impact scuzz-blues..."
Spin (p.120) - "[T]ricks like using a guitar to replicate Vera Hall's 'Trouble So Hard' vocal vault this duo above blues-hipster averageness." - Grade: B
Entertainment Weekly (p.73) - "[T]he most primitive of trash-about rock, the sincerest of blues, and the most completely unironic appreciation for the power of the riff converge." - Grade: A
Q (p.119) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[T]hanks to some stomping tunes and Auerbach's oak-smoked vocals, it's another rock-solid enterprise."
Uncut (p.101) - 3 stars out of 5 - "It's terrific, lively fun - soulful, even..."
Alternative Press (p.149) - 3 out of 5 - "RUBBER FACTORY teases with murky swamp boogies, devil-worship stomps and, as is the duo's tradition, a couple of classic-rock covers..."
Magnet (p.93) - "Auerbach's holler is seasoned well beyond his quarter-century on this planet, and he has the songwriting ear and musical history to convey a sincere love of the ground the Keys cover."
Magnet (p.66) - Ranked #9 in Magnet's "The 20 Best Albums Of 2004" - "[I]t's meant to be felt , way down deep in your gut..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.98) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[S]tuffed with pure blues'n'garage rock anthems....Masters of ancient valve amps, fuzz guitar pedals and sludgy vocals."
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