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Feature: The Essential Black Keys

By ; May 29, 2013 at 11:43 AM 

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The Black Keys are currently one of the rock biggest bands in the country and have come a long way from ten years ago when guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney were recording bare-bones blues-rock songs in Carney’s basement in Akron, Ohio.

Along with the White Stripes and a host of bands you no longer remember, the Black Keys were among the vanguard of the garage-rock revival scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Surprisingly though, the band survived the 2000s and now prosper today with a sound that stays true to their bluesy roots.

With El Camino and Brothers, the band has gained steady radio play, a string of arena dates, and a wealth of new fans. However, the band’s seven-album history cannot be ignored. Early classics such as Thickfreakness and Rubber Factory represented the band for years and exhibit the duo’s early raw power. Starting with Attack & Release, the band began experimenting with studio wizardry, outside producers, and new instrumentation that changed the direction of the band and sped up their evolution. After Magic Potion, there was a feeling that the band might be stagnant, sticking to the same formula with each song. The Keys righted the ship, tinkered with their sound, and now have a diverse set of records to their name.

With a catalogue as large as the Black Keys, some difficult choices had to be made in selecting their top tracks. Songs such as “Till I Get My Way” and their cover of “Have Love Will Travel” were neglected for simply being too similar to other songs on the list. Magic Potion, the band’s last self-produced album, had a few solid numbers in “Strange Desire” and “Just Got To Be” that also missed the cutoff. These are solid songs that were stuck in that transition period between the band’s great garage-rock and their transformation to modern rock gods. Commercial hits such as “Howlin’ For You” and standout recent cuts such as “Run Right Back,” “Little Black Submarines,” and “Next Girl” were not included for simply not being more influential over earlier numbers.

Listen with Spotify while you run down our list:

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