Local Wire

The Black Keys

After spending the past seven years building their reputation as a no-frills bluesy grit-rock duo, Black Keys vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney felt they needed a fresh perspective. So they turned to Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, half of Gnarls Barkley, and a recent go-to producer for Gorillaz, The Rapture, Sparklehorse, and Damon Albarn's supergroup, The Good, The Bad and The Queen. The resulting record — set to be released on April 1 — is Attack & Release, the duo's fourth full-length album, and their first with an outside producer.  The first single, "Strange Times," displays Danger Mouse's knack for subtle adjustments to The Black Keys' sound. The producer doesn't mess much with their tried-and-true formula but did slightly fill out the sound in places: an additional handclap here or bubbling organs there. In the past, Auerbach has struggled with Paul Rodgers comparisons. There are worse things than an association with the former Bad Company and Free singer, one of the signature voices in rock for the past four decades. But Danger Mouse seems to give a different treatment to Auerbach's voice, and his pipes are starting to sound more like his own.
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Chris Nixon