Bits: Happy Black Keys Day!, Alan Moore box set, Dio lost, Curtis remembered, Conrad Plymouth travels

  • I’m tempted to make this an all-Black Keys Bits post, but I won’t. That being said, holy shit, the new album drops today and it is glorious. And they’re giving away a copy of the deluxe, limited-edition CD over at HearYa.
  • Comic book genius Alan Moore is in music news again as he collaborates with photographer Mitch Jenkins and a roster of musicians, including Mike Patton, on a box set that includes a story written by Moore, illustrated by Jenkins with an accompanying score on CD or vinyl.
  • Metal legend Ronnie James Dio lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, and today marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis.
  • Our friends Conrad Plymouth give a brief glimpse of their journey to SXSW.
  • And back around to the Keys. In concert with the official release of Brothers is the premiere of the video for the lead single “Tighten Up”. The guys continue their fine video tradition of hilarity and violence. With no dinosaur puppets in sight.

The Black Keys “Tighten Up”,t=1,mt=video
The … Continue reading

Obsess Much? : The Black Keys, All times are now

I had already planned to obsess some more about the Black Keys, and specifically about how the biggest reason I love Dan Auerbach is because he is a music sponge, today when I learned that NPR Music had posted the new Black Keys album Brothers in their “First Listen” feature.

Let me just get this out of the way now: I am in love with this album. Every song hits me in a way that gets me excited. These 55 minutes of music go by far too fast.

(And if you put on your headphones and turn “Howlin’ For You” up loud enough, it sounds like the walls are coming down around you. Spectacular.)

Okay, now I’ll try to calm down enough to formulate coherent thought.

I’m going to start off by apologizing to Patrick Carney for excluding him so often when I talk about the music of the Black Keys. The Black Keys would not be the Black Keys without Carney – you can’t just Spinal Tap another drummer into his place. He is a monster of … Continue reading

Bits: This Is Jim Jones, Sleigh Bells, Trent’s new joint, Liquid Swords II, Murder by Death & whiskey, litrock, Frank the Funkasaurus Rex wrecks ya

If you have somehow missed the puppet dinosaur craze, please meet Frank the Funkasaurus Rex. Frank loves him some tits ‘n’ tubs, and we love Frank.

Addendum: So, that scroll across the bottom? Not a joke. TBK was seriously pissed about this video. Sorry, … Continue reading

Obsess Much? : The Black Keys, Magic Potion

Obsess Much? is a new feature wherein I will do what I do best, the very thing that led me to start this blog in the first place: completely fixate on one artist/album/genre/enclave/whatever and talk on and on and on about it, sharing information and opinions with anyone in shouting distance, whether they like it or not.

You’re loving it already, right?

So whomever/whatever I’m obsessing on, whether a new artist or an act who has been around for a while or a band who aren’t even together anymore, I will share my enthusiasm in unnecessarily great detail.

Regular readers may have noticed that, since the Black Keys posted their new song “Tighten Up” from their forthcoming album Brothers on their MySpace page, I have been hardcore about all things coming from these two, sharp Akron boys. As an Ohioan who seems to be subconsciously drawn to acts from Ohio, I have been listening to and loving the Black Keys for a long time, but it is only with this current wave of fixation that I have nearly completed … Continue reading

Rebirth of the Cool: Grown So Ugly

Back to the blues we go for this installment of Rebirth of the Cool.

The story of Robert Pete Williams echoes the story of many of the great bluesmen: born in Louisiana in 1914, Williams grew up poor and uneducated. He was discovered in Angola prison, while serving time for killing a man, by a pair of ethnomusicologists who pressured the parole board for a pardon. He played the 1964 Newport Folk Festival alongside the likes of “re-discovered” greats like Skip James, Son House and others, heralding the height of the 1960s blues revival.

“Grown So Ugly” is probably Williams’ best-known song, thanks to the next two acts we’ll talk about. Williams had a percussive style of guitar-playing and his singing style could call up the grit of Howlin’ Wolf one moment and the haunting falsetto of Skip James the next.

I’ve Grown So Ugly – Robert Pe…

In 1967, Captain Beefheart brought his Magic Band and his husky yelp to the song and turned it into a jazzy cry.

Grown So Ugly – Captain Beefhe…

The version recorded … Continue reading

Slackday: And Ohio boys ain’t too bad, either

As it’s Slackday, I’ll just drop the (very thin) veneer of objective professionalism and admit it: I am currently obsessed with all things Dan Auerbach. I’ve always dug the Black Keys, but the release of the new songs from their forthcoming album have compelled me to spend quality time with their catalogue and to get into Dan Auerbach’s solo work.

I learned that my favorite song on Dan Auerbach’s album, Keep It Hid, is a cover of a song that was written by Wayne Carson Thompson – who was also the writer of the fantastic song “The Letter” that was popularized by the Box Tops, sung by a very young Alex Chilton – and popularized by a duo called Jon & Robin. I had never heard the song, so I went looking for it. I was a little apprehensive that I might be faced with the fact that Dan didn’t conjure magic and awesome from thin air. But I needn’t have worried. As with A.A. Bondy, I’m finding I can always trust Dan.

You see, here’s the Jon & Robin version:

It’s cute, … Continue reading

Bits: Lolla’10, Yuri’s Night, Lou Barlow tour, TBK in NYC2, new Big Boi jam

  • While we don’t post too many festival line-ups unless A.A. Bondy or the Felice Brothers are involved (we play favorites, we admit it), the Lollapalooza 2010 line-up is pretty great. Standouts for us: Jimmy Cliff, the Black Keys, Cypress Hill (we saw them on a previous Lolla go-’round, and they had one of the best sets of the day), Mavis Staples, Mumford & Sons, Dawes and Royal Bangs. It’ll be a something-for-everyone weekend.
  • If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you should be getting tickets for Yuri’s Night at the NASA Ames Research Center this Saturday because the entertainment lineup is straight-up awesome. Les Claypool, The Black Keys, Common, N.E.R.D. and more. We ain’t got nothing like that going for the CLE celebration.
  • Lou Barlow will be touring with Mike Watt’s missingmen, though sans Watt, in June.
  • After the quick sell-out of the Black Keys’ upcoming Summerstage show, a second date has been added. Go get you some, NYC.
  • Pitchfork has a new Big Boi track, “Shutterbugg”, for you to listen to. BB has signed with Def Jam, so his solo album should finally … Continue reading

Rock ‘n’ Roll as Educational Tool

I’ve always liked the Black Keys, but I have been getting more into them lately thanks to an early taste, via the uber groovy track “Tighten Up” (not a cover of the Archie Bell and the Drells’ song as I originally suspected), of their new album that’s coming out in May. Dan and Pat are Ohio boys who grew up in Akron, relatively speaking, just down the road from where I grew up. This is sometimes weird and slightly unsettling.

For instance: In doing some TBK fansite reading, I came across a familiar face.

See that big, craggy-faced dude with the feathers who’s lurking behind the amps? I know that dude. I’ve passed him many times throughout my life. Never knew his name or where he came from, but I always gave him a nod and a smile in passing.

Well, not that dude exactly. You see, that dude is a representation (possibly to size) of this dude:

I don’t know how many times I’ve passed him, and I’ve always admired him (especially during my high school years … Continue reading

Late to the Party: BlakRoc

NTSIB could be all late-to-the-party all the time. Some music I am slow to warm up to (I’m just now starting to get on board with Local Natives). Some music I know I like, but I don’t really get into until years after I first hear it. Some music I don’t even know about until it’s old news.

BlakRoc falls into the third category for me, and I’m still mystified that I didn’t even know about this project this time last week. For others who may be as out of the loop as I have been on this: BlakRoc is a collaborative project between the Black Keys and Damon Dash of Roc-A-Fella Records. Dash helped bring a number of hip-hop luminaries in for the project, like Mos Def, Ludacris, Raekwon, Q-Tip and the RZA. The fucking RZA! Names even white people recognize! There’s even a from-the-grave appearance from Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

It’s no secret that the Black Keys have soul, and their groove-heavy music is a perfect, strong background for the rhymes laid down on this project. BlakRoc is fucking sweet, and NTSIB … Continue reading