The Black Keys: Down-and-Dirty Blues Rock The Black Keys are a duo from Akron, Ohio. The band went from college dropouts mowing lawns to cult stardom. Their sound is an ultra-retro throwback to the days when Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix channeled American blues artists.
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The Black Keys: Down-and-Dirty Blues Rock

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The Black Keys: Down-and-Dirty Blues Rock

The Black Keys: Down-and-Dirty Blues Rock

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We close our show this evening with a different sort of guitar. The raw electric sounds of the Black Keys.

(Soundbite of guitar playing)

HANSEN: Our headbutler, Jesse Kornbluth is a fan of their stripped-down dirty blues rock.

Jesse, you're going retro on us?

JESSE KORNBLUTH: Oh Debbie, I love it when you talk that way. Yes, it's retro. It couldn't be more retro. And it's really good music for people like me who grew up with Led Zeppelin, and just, you know, can't play it anymore because it makes you feel like you're just terribly, terribly old.

HANSEN: I know what you mean.

KORNBLUTH: So then, we'll have the new Led Zeppelin. And guess what? They're just two guys. And that's what's just so incredibly freaky about this group, The Black Keys.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. DAN AUERBACH (Vocalist/Guitarist, The Black Keys): (Singing) Just another heat, now on this cold day.

HANSEN: Two guys.

KORNBLUTH: Yeah. And they also - and here's what's the perfect thing, they give college dropouts a really good name. Indeed, they make college dropouts who cut lawns for a living look like really smart guys. You know, assuming they are smart guys to start with, which these two were.

HANSEN: Tell me a little bit more about who these guys are.

KORNBLUTH: Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are from Akron, Ohio. They were cutting lawns. Someone had a studio. A band didn't show up. They started playing together. They realized that they should have a band. And by a band, they meant them - Auerbach on guitar and singing and Patrick Carney as a drummer. And they were quite sufficient. They were loud. They were raw. They were nasty. They like the same stuff. And they were good at it. Their second album they recorded in 12 blistering hours.

HANSEN: Well, let's hear a little bit. We have one of the selections from their newest album "Magic Potion", this song is called "Your Touch" by the Black Keys.

(Soundbite of song "Your Touch")

Mr. AUERBACH: (Singing) Can I be good? Well, I've got you. Waiting inside, misery unleashed. Your touch. Your touch.

HANSEN: Now Jesse, this sounds a little bit like beer-drinking music.

KORNBLUTH: It is. And of course, the wonderful thing is how cheerful it is. I mean, they were asked, you know, the blues, the blues are depressing. And they say, oh no, no, that's not so at all. Basically, who told you that? And the - you know, the interviewer says, oh, but, you know, but everybody thinks that. And Auerbach says, yes, but most people are idiots. How many people would you take advice from? Very few for me anyway, but I would actually hear someone's opinion and say, hmm, I'll follow that.

(Soundbite of song "Your Touch")

HANSEN: Now, you call this blues. I think I'd call it more rock. It has that classic rock kind of undertone to it.

KORNBLUTH: It does. But it's classic rock from England, which of course, comes really from black southern blues.

(Soundbite of song "Your Touch")

Mr. AUERBACH: (Singing) I need your touch. Your touch.

HANSEN: How are they doing?

KORNBLUTH: They're doing extremely well. They have a fabulous cult. They tour everywhere. Robert Plant of Led Zep thinks that, you know, they're the B's and E's. And the other thing, of course, is if they can be believed they're planning to spend their lives in Akron. They're not buying into being big rock stars, even though big rock stars like what they do a great deal.

These guys have kept just under the radar enough. And they're just prolific enough that you can't get quite get a handle on. And the other thing is, there's not much to say about them because they don't evolve. There's nothing new to say. I mean, as he says, we didn't feel dissatisfied with what we've done in the past, so we didn't feel any pressure to change. I mean…

HANSEN: So the same sound across all their albums?

KORNBLUTH: If you didn't like one, you're not going to like the next.

HANSEN: The Black Keys. We've been listening to their song "Your Touch". You can find more recommendations from headbutler, Jesse Kornbluth on our Web site,

(Soundbite of song "Your Touch")

Mr. AUERBACH: (Singing) Your touch.

HANSEN: That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Debbie Elliott.

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