Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

The Black Keys “Magic Potion” Review

Published in Blog, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Just what happens that when a band, so powerful and marketable, takes advantage of a sound that many are using and penetrates modern pop music with it, its many contemporaries are often forgotten? In the case of The White Stripes and The Black Keys though, it is the contemporaries that deliver absolutely striking music that doubles as an exemplary look at modern blues/rock and pop music in general. The two-piece from Akron, Ohio grew up together, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, but it was only later in their friendship that they developed their band. The group found themselves in a strange situation with the release of their first few albums, they were both young and full of inspiration, but just didn’t have the mainstream appeal and mystique that The Stripes did. That being said, the band has continually driven a far more reputable esteem than many others playing similar styled music. But why?

The Black Keys literally don’t waste a second on the album. There aren’t any experimental synth streaks punctuating drum machine loops. There aren’t any long, draining, made-for-Bonnaroo, let’s-just-roll-with-it type solos ruining their short, simplistic structure. The band is compelling because as musicians, both Auerbach and Carney seem to play at a level they are comfortable at, and both seem to know that exceeding those limits would make for a completely different band.

The Blues.

The distinction between The Black Keys and any number of other bands is the duo’s conscious decision focus the tempo of their songs on a certain leveled pace. Throughout Magic Potion The Keys’ maintain a grinding crunch that serves as some sort of bizarre Memphis chic compared to much of the other outstanding modern blues acts.

That being said, there is no doubt that this is not a typical blues album, nor would The Keys want you to think it so. As much as Auerbach channels any number of prolific blues singers, he is singing through his voice alone. And as much as the band’s music sounds like it is walking towards you, clenching its fists, with a look in its eyes that makes you want to shiver and hide, it won’t hurt you, but only heal you with its touch.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]