Tag Archives: Black Keys

Tennis – Young And Old

TennisYoung & Old (Fat Possum)

Teaming up with the Black Keys’ Patrick Riley in a real Nashville studio, Tennis returns with a sophomore release that retains Cape Dory’s time machine rust while opening up the fidelity a bit to give the band — now a three piece with the inclusion of drummer James Barone — more depth, warmth, and a better window on Alaina Moore’s impressive vocals.

But what’s even more impressive is how the band, in less than a year’s time, has managed to deliver another 10 track record of consistently good dream pop, hinting that the debut was far from a fluke.

Moore alternates from Northern Soul to good ol’ Brill Building charm in such an underhanded way that it’s easy to overlook how uniquely good her talents are. Producer Riley wisely un-clutters her performance by scaling back on the reverb while leaving plenty of old-school vocal distortion, harking back to a time when the power of the human voice could still manage to show the inadequacies of the engineering staff.

Anyone looking for revelation within Young & Old is missing the point. It presents itself as a pop record as learned through transistor radios, forgoing the nautical themes of Cape Dory for an unpretentious attempt at making a straight-forward gem built from our everyday surroundings.

That means lots of introspection from a husband and wife duo that are starting to notice that the honeymoon is over, and that romance has been replaced by a harsh reality that their combined efforts are now a career endeavor.

There are moments of confounding lyrics, but then again, what pop record isn’t littered with freshman poetry or, even worse, middle school texting. Personally, I find a lot more things relatable to this married couple and respond a lot quicker when their life is packaged in this spontaneous and charming dream pop bundle.

Young & Old is the perfect pop record for suburban adults who want to recall the days of their downtown lofts.

MP3: Tennis – “Origins” (via KCRW)

The Black Keys Live in Portland

The Black Keys - Live in Portland, 2010The Black Keys at Crystal Ballroom

Portland, Oregon, October 5, 2010

Keith Richards has said that, “Everyone talks about rock these days; the problem is they forget about the roll,” which might be more true today than ever before. With bands racing to be louder and harder than the guy next door, too many forget that rock and roll is supposed to be SEXY.

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Lollapalooza 2008: Don't Be Old, Be Fun

Lollapalooza 2008I had a bad attitude about Lollapalooza this year. I was not looking forward to it at all. I’ve covered Lollapalooza for Glorious Noise each year since the festival was resurrected in Chicago in 2005. Between Lolla and Forkfest, I was thinking I might just be festivaled out.

My wife’s advice as I left on Friday: “Don’t be old—be fun.”

Which sounds a lot harder than it actually turned out to be. Once I let go of some of my uptightness and decided to just roll with it, I ended up having a great weekend. Free your mind, and your ass will follow, right? Surprisingly, I think the lack of bands that I needed to see helped me relax and just enjoy myself.

Not to say that there weren’t a ton of great bands playing this year. There were, but I’ve seen most of them recently. At Lollapalooza two years ago. Or at Pitchfork last year. Or both.

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The Black Keys – Magic Potion

The Black Keys - Magic PotionThe Black KeysMagic Potion (Nonesuch)

Riffs form the basis of the rock portion of rock and roll, and your ability to procure a good one can make or break you as a rock and roll songwriter. It’s even more imperative when your band is The Black Keys, since their brand of minimalist blues-rock (guitar and drums only) places the riffs front and center with only the barest rhythm section to back them up.

Fortunately, frontman Dan Auerbach has the gift of riff. He takes his guitar, plugs it into heavy overdrive, and drags it through the nastiest tire factories in Akron, Ohio. If you like your stuff loud and raw, this is your band.

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You’re No Rock and Roll Fun

Sleater-Kinney

Majestic Theater, Detroit, February 19, 2003

Sleater-KinneyAs Sleater-Kinney has matured from riot-punk youth rebellion to being the shock troops for intelligent Pacific Northwest punk rock music, the larger media cognoscenti (i.e., geeks like Rolling Stone) have recognized not only their talent, but also the fact that they’re women. Including the band in its “Women Who Rock” article of a few months ago probably had a few RS editors patting themselves on their backs. Yay! I’m so hip! When in fact, the move reeked of concession – Sure, we’ll give you S-K. As long as Ashanti and Shakira do the covershoot in their undies. Evidently PJ Harvey, Bjork, Kelly Hogan, and Chan Marshall’s schedules were filled to the brim. But really ever since 2000’s All Hands on the Bad One, Sleater-Kinney has been on a collision course with this kind of widespread attention. And, ever true to their ideals, guitarists/vocalists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss haven’t let acclaim damage their agenda as a group confronting emotional, cultural, and political issues inside 3-minute blasts of punk rock.

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