Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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April 7, 2008

Another prolific "Release"

by Jon Kesten, Online Foreign Desk Editor
Do a new album, a new producer, new instruments and a new look spell a new Black Keys? If the CD's first track is any indication, then the Keys are still very much among us, but with a new, original flavor on their April 1 album "Attack and Release."

In their latest album, the Black Keys mix with DJ Dangermouse for an original spin on bluesy garage rock. 

<i>Photo Courtesy of Nonesuch Records</i>
In their latest album, the Black Keys mix with DJ Dangermouse for an original spin on bluesy garage rock. Photo Courtesy of Nonesuch Records
The opening track, "All You Ever Wanted," introduces the album with a familiar soulful sound, but is set to a slow tempo that is unforgiving to grunge and heavy blues fans. All hope seems lost with this ballad until the listener's speakers are unpredictably flooded with the sounds of DJ Dangermouse on the organ and Patrick Carney (drums) producing hip-hop influenced beats on the next track "I Got Mine." The band lays down a blues-progressed, heavy E-string riff to drive the song.

The most outstanding part of "Attack and Release" is the finished, sophisticated sound. The Keys literally came out of Dan Auerbach's (guitar/vocals) basement, where they had recorded a number of their previous albums, but find themselves in a lush studio with one of the business's most infamous DJs for this album. While Dangermouse is normally seen as the must-hire for up-and-coming hip-hop acts such as Cee-lo (Gnarls Barkley) and the Gorillaz, he was careful not to ruin the Keys' delicate balance of garage, lo-fi bluesy sound.

This experiment between two seemingly different genres proves successful in tracks such as "Strange Times," where eerie melodies and blues somehow harmonize. "So He Won't Break," - a catchy and alternative refrain - serves as an outstanding example of what it appeared the Black Keys were aiming to accomplish with this album. Somber tunes such as "Lies" and "Psychotic Girl" are proof of the experiment's deviation from good old blues, and hits such as "Remember When (Side B)" and "Thing's Ain't like They Used to Be" will also resonate with listeners.

As they have proved in the past, as well as at live performances, Auerbach and Carney make an incredible amount of sound for only a guitarist and drummer. The duo's single "Strange Times" starts with Carney on a head-bobbing drum track and is followed by a quick guitar interlude. With the addition of instruments such as the organ, flute and bass, the Keys keep their traditional garage sound, but with a new, pleasing tune.

While many commonly compare the Keys to the coed Detroit rockers of The White Stripes, "Attack and Release" is evidence that the two have their subtle and noticeable differences. Auerbach's blues and soul lyrics mesh uncannily with the harsh guitar and heavy kick drum, and listener's will be able to sleep at night knowing the Keys are indeed alive and well.

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