Thursday, July 3, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Thickfreakness, by The Black Keys

Once upon a time there was a duo from Akron, Ohio who had a blues band. These men took the art form back to its earlier roots but made it more gritty and raw. This band was known as The Black Keys. All this however was long before they started making the pop oriented radio hits that we all know today. Back in 2001 singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney found success as an indie band producing their own music. Their first album The Big Come Up found them an unusually high amount of success for an independent group. This success then lead them to be signed by Fat Possum Records to record their second album Thickfreakness.

Released on April 8, 2003 Thickfreakness was also a success, partially due to the fact that a track from the album titled Set You Free was featured in the 2003 film School of Rock. The sound of the album has a very distinct sounding older feel to it due to the fact that it was recorded on an early 1980s Tascam 388 8-track recorder. While Auerbach and Carney did receive an advance payment from the record company, they had to use it to pay their rent. Carney says in the liner notes of the album that the older sound results from what he calls his patented "medium fidelity" recording techniques. Surprisingly most of Thickfreakness was recorded in a single 14 hour session in Carney's basement.

Set You Free is a very upbeat and lively blues rocker. In fact it almost has a Jimi Hendrix/Cream vibe to it, except heavier and grittier. Honestly, this isn't surprising considering The Black Keys' having similar musical roots as both these artists did back in the 60's. It does showcase some of Auerbach's respectable blues soloing chops quite well. He isn't the most flashy or skilled guitarist out there, but Set You Free definitely proves that he can write a damn good song and add some good melody. While the lyrics are definitely not of a happy overtone, the music itself will still put a smile on your face and make you want to crank it up as loud as you possibly can.

Hard Row is a more mid-tempo road rambling type of tune. It's something that produces a mental image of just ambling down a road at a normal pace. The lyrics are what one would typically expect from an old school blues sounding song. They are pretty simple, but they talk about deep feelings of being alone with no one by your side to comfort you after walking out on the one who was really there for you. The guitar tone is what makes this tune absolutely KILLER, though. The old school medium fidelity quality of it just gives it this gritty edge that is difficult to find in popular music in more recent years.

Thickfreakness is a MUST have for anyone who is either a fan of the blues, garage rock, or even both. It shows what you can really do even with the least of equipment, proving you don't have to go big budget in order to put out a quality album. The songs are memorable, soulful, and crank-worthy. Even those who have been listening to the blues for decades will find plenty of things to enjoy about Thickfreakness. I personally love it and think you will too.

Thickfreakness, by The Black Keys receives 5 out of 5 stars.

Track Listing:

1. Thickfreakness
2. Hard Row
3. Set You Free
4. Midnight in Her Eyes
5. Have Love Will Travel
6. Hurt Like Mine
7. Everywhere I Go
8. No Trust
9. If You See Me
10. Hold Me in Your Arms

11. I Cry Alone

Buy the album on Amazon:

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