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The Black Keys are a two-man blues-rock group from Akron, Ohio, consisting of singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney. The band name was inspired by a schizophrenic artist and friend in Akron, who used the term "black keys" to describe things he disliked or people he did not trust. The band is frequently compared to White Stripes because they are both 2-person bands (vocals, guitar, and drums) that play broken-down blues music. The bands also emerged within a couple of years of each other. However, the Black Keys have a less pop-based sound than The White Stripes, and have their roots in more traditional blues and psychedelic rock stylings. They also lack the more deliberately cultivated image of The White Stripes, their images instead changing with each album.
They released their first album, The Big Come Up, in 2002, followed by Thickfreaknessin 2003, and Rubber Factory in 2004. October 2005 saw the release of the DVD Live, recorded live at The Metro Theatre in Sydney, Australia March 18, 2005. In 2006 they released Magic Potion, as well as the lesser-known Chulahoma and a single version of Your Touch.
One of their trademarks is their preference for simple, lo-fi recording techniques. They refuse to use big-name studios, and do most recording, producing, and mixing themselves. Most of Thickfreakness was recorded in about 14 hours in Carney's basement, using only an early 80's Tascam 388 8-track recorder. Often, their recordings still have background noises (such as an owl hooting).
Another trademark is not following the 'norm'. They typically use unorthodox recording techniques, as well as what some may consider 'off-the-wall' ways of playing.
The Black Keys have achieved increasing critical acclaim and recognition since their debut album, which itself received praise from Rolling Stone magazine. Time magazine named them one of the "10 Best Acts of 2003" (behind OutKast and The White Stripes). They have supported a number of bands: they toured with Sleater-Kinney in 2003, had a short stint opening for Beck, have recently opened for Radiohead on the American leg of their brief 2006 tour, and performed at Lollapalooza 2005. In addition to this, they were also well-liked by influential British radio DJ John Peel and appeared on both Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Late Show with David Letterman. Famous followers of the band include Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, and Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammet. Matt Helders, drummer for the Arctic Monkeys, can be seen in a Black Keys T-Shirt in an interview on MTV's RAW.
The Black Keys have recieved a good deal of commercial recognition as well: 'Set You Free' was included on the soundtrack of the 2003 movie School of Rock, 'Girl is on My Mind' was used in a 2006 Sony Ericsson advertisement, which starred the tennis players Ana Ivanović and Daniela Hantuchova, and 'The Desperate Man' was used in a 2006 Victoria's Secret commercial featuring Heidi Klum.
Their new record, Magic Potion, was released on September 4, 2006 in the UK and September 12, 2006 in the United States. It is their first recording for Nonesuch Records.
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