The Black Keys Say, “Let’s Rock”!

The Black Keys are one of those bands, like My Morning Jacket, Midlake and loads of others, that I championed early on and then quickly abandoned all interest in as their spark fizzled out, or they went all jam-band on us, or got bloated, or lost their charm, or whatever. It happens a lot.

In The Black Keys’ case, Dan Auerbach (cousin of Robert Quine) and Patrick Carney (nephew of Ralph Carney) blasted outta Akron into the new millennium like the blues-punk mutant spawn of Junior Kimbrough and Cream stripped down to the bloody bone. That first album on Alive Natural Sound is killer! Thirteen unwashed electric basement knockouts, most under three minutes each. The Fat Possum records were alright, mostly rehashes, but solid. The Nonesuch shit with the rappers and Danger Mouse progressively lost me. I know, lotsa people love those albums. You probably love them, too. To each his own, as the saying goes.

The band’s new album is titled “Let’s Rock,” and if the PR puffery is to be believed, it’s a return to the “straightforward rock” of their “early days as a band.” I’ve heard bullshit like that before, but I have to give a thumb’s up to the dirty soul of the advance single “Lo/Hi,” giving me hope for the full elpee. No Danger Mouse this time – it’s self-produced, with no frills – which means it’ll probably tank, but fuck it, you gotta do what feels real. “The record is like a homage to electric guitar,” says Carney. “We took a simple approach and trimmed all the fat like we used to.”

It’s out June 28 on Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch, and planning ahead, they’ll be at State Farm Arena on Nov. 9, with Modest Mouse and Shannon & the Clams.

Photo by Alysse Gafkjen.