In 2001, in Akron, Ohio, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney began a blues band. It is a story heard a thousand times; some nobody boys start a nobody band in hopes to play music for the masses. However, the pair was tackling a different genre at the perfect time — the blues for the modern age. It is their southern-rooted, whiskey-drinking, no-good-doing just-here-to-rock sound that took these boys out of nowhere and into the limelight.
After the 2010 success of their album “Brothers,” the Keys make a return to the scene with a seventh studio album “El Camino” that is set to hit stores on Tuesday, Dec. 6. In anticipation for the album, The State Press composed a top 10 list of songs you must hear from the band. Over the past decade, The Black Keys have put classic rock ‘n’ roll back in business — but with a little more attitude.
10. “Lies” (Attack and Release, 2008)
There is no denying the authenticity in the heartbreak that inspired “Lies.” Auerbach sings, “I’ve got a stone where my heart should be / And nothing I do will make you love me.” The painfully forceful song aches and moans for lost love and abandonment.
9. “The Lengths” (Rubber Factory, 2004)
Every blues band has to have a slow, bluesy ballad. The Black Keys understood this unwritten law while perfecting their song “The Lengths.” The guitar echoes as it sounds like a lonesome moan for lost love. It is perhaps the quintessential lonely heart club ballad, perfect for those suffering from a breakup.
8. “Your Touch” (Magic Potion, 2006)
The guitar riff in “Your Touch” begins one of the sexiest songs the band has composed. “Oh Lordy, Lordy / I got excited now / Please rush / I need / Your touch.” The song is lusty and steamy as Auerbach begs for a lover’s touch.
7. “Psychotic Girl” (Attack and Release, 2008)
The banjo in the beginning and throughout the song “Psychotic Girl” sounds ominous and dark, just like the crazy girl the band sings of. It is eerie and the notes are sometimes distorted throughout with Auerbach singing the tale of a psychotic, man-eating woman he once knew.
6. “10 A.M. Automatic” (Rubber Factory, 2004)
“10 A.M. Automatic” is a classic rock ‘n’ roll jam that is feisty and flirts with the lifestyle the band’s music is inexplicably associated with. “What about the night / Makes you change / From sweet to deranged.” The song is full of spunk and power.
5. “The Breaks” (Big Come Up, 2002)
The first 13 seconds of “The Breaks” make you want to lean forward slightly, look straight at the speaker and listen with a sparkle in your eye as though you might be thinking, “Gee, this is the most wonderful thing I have ever heard in all my life.” As the song continues, listeners will understand how very appropriate the intro to the song truly is. This charming song of love at first sight is smooth and casual.
4. “Howlin’ For You” (Brothers, 2010)
“Howlin’ For You” is another seductive rock piece by the band. It is a vintage lust song, “Mockingbird / Can’t you see, this little girl’s got a hold on me / Like glue / Baby, I’m howlin’ for you.” What girl could resist such a howl from Auerbach?
3. “Everlasting Light” (Brothers, 2010)
A love-struck Auerbach sings in a higher pitch on “Everlasting Light” as he hitches a ride on a “train going away from pain” where “love is the coal that makes the train roll.” This catchy and undeniably genius song gets heads bopping and hips swaying. It is a love song for the ages, bringing class and romance back into rock music.
2. “Tighten Up” (Brothers, 2010)
This smash hit got the band their jump into fame. The song won a Grammy for “Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals” in 2010. Auerbach’s voice is soulful and authentic. The band is clearly passionate about this song and its listeners are passionate about dancing along to it. A song this special is not just appreciated by critics, but even by the teenyboppers who watch MTV. It is a great song not only to hear, but also to make the effort to really listen to. The words are genuine and the music absolutely fitting. It is a combination of true soul and talent.
1. “I Got Mine” (Attack and Release, 2008)
I must admit, the choice for the band’s best song is probably a moot point. However, “I Got Mine” is song that truly defines The Black Keys. It displays not only their talent and passion for playing, but it is definitive of the entire blues genre. The guitar is pounded out just as loudly as Carney’s drum beat and Auerbach practically screams out how he got his as a “movin’ man” in his younger days. He tells a story and illustrates it well with the forceful and relentless melody. It is the ultimate blues song — and the ultimate Black Keys song.
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