Tag Archives: The Black Keys

Blakroc – Blakroc – CD Review

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I am still full from an amazing array of good eats and excited.  Of course we all know that today is supposed to be the busiest shopping day of the year and there is not one part of me that wishes to engage in that stupid retail disaster.  I have no interest in waking up early and saving $20 on a junk TV or getting DVDs for $2.  I don’t wish to wait outside in the cold for the chance at getting a deal.  I’ll just surf the internet for my shopping needs when the Jesus Day comes a little close.

Black Friday can kiss my ass.

So if I am so bitter at this tragedy of a day what am I so excited about you ask?  That’s easy, Blakroc‘s debut self-titled album was released today.  What?  You have no idea what I am talking about?  Well of course I am going to explain a little more about this album that I have been anticipating for quite some time.

Blakroc is a project featuring Akron, Ohio’s blues/rock heroes The Black Keys plus hip-hop artists including Ludacris, Mos Def, the late-great Ol’ Dirty Bastard and other well known artists.  The combination of the music of Dan Auerbach and  Patrick Carney’s provided beats layered with the rap lyrics is just unbelievable.  To add to the exhilaration, The Black Key’s frontman Auerbach provides some of his own signing on a couple of tracks making for a truly matchless sound. 

So how exactly did The Black Keys get mixed up with hip hop?  Well apparently Damon Dash, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records is a huge fan of the Keys and wanted to do something involving the duo and Jim Jones.  During that initial session Mos Def interrupted and wound up recording as well and Blakroc was formulated (Black Keys + Roc-A-Fella = Blakroc).  In eleven days there were eleven tracks recorded thus creating an album that could be compared to a Gorillaz-like jam sans the electronics and cartoon fantasyland idea.

Finally after hearing about this project for months it the hit shelves today (CD & LP) and I could not resist but grabbing a copy for myself.  After all I am a huge fan of The Black Keys and everything they do as well as have a high appreciation for hip hop so it’s easy to say I was excited.  Once I put that album on though I was in my own little glory just like the first time I heart the Judgment Night soundtrack.  It was something new and something unmarked in it’s own kind.  Blues/rock and rap?  Nice.
The first track “Coochie” floored me not just because it sounded so great but because my number one favorite rap artist Ol’ Dirty Bastard was rapping in his glory (still can’t believe it’s been five years since his passing).  Thanks to ODB being affiliated with Roc-A-Fella Records prior to his death there was some of his work readily available for Damon Dash and he put it to good use.  Featuring the ever easy to listen to Ludacris and ODB slinging out rhymes about one of their loves in life, this song set the bar high for my expectations for the rest of the album.

“On The Vista” followed with the same knockout as the first track thanks to the smooth flow of Mos Def and Auerbach’s amazing guitar playing.  NOE dominated on “Hard Times” with some nice R&B like back-up singing as well as the Keys doing their thing.  “Why Can’t I Forget” was a nice somber R&B turn featuring Nicole Wray.

As soon as Mos Def and Auerbach shared the mic on “Ain’t Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)” I was just astounded.  It was my favorite track on the album thanks to the high appeal of hearing Auerbach’s distinguished singing followed by sick flows from Mos Def as well as a few lines by Jim Jones.

“Hope Your Happy” was another highlight on the album to me with Nicole Wray providing more soul signing beside the infamous Q-Tip and Billy Danze.  Nicole Wray returns once again with NOE, almost sounding like Jay-Z, on the final track titled “Done Did It”.  I am really glad the album included her as she made some of the songs that much better to listen to.

My only complaint with this album was the lack of Mr. Roc-A-Fella himself – Jay-Z.  It’s not like he’s never done something like this before (anyone remember Linkin Park/Jay-Z).  Based upon what I heard on this album though I would not be shocked in the least bit if another album was already in the works.

You will like this album if you like things done different from the norm but with substance.  It’s a fresh new sound that was brought together with near perfection.  If you are a fan of hip-hop you will dig this album as well, but I can honestly say if you are only about the music The Black Keys push out on average this may not be your cup of tea.  It’s a blues rock experimental album in a sense but more so a hip-hop heavy project that completely did wonders to my ears.

Those Darlins, Hacienda, & Dan Auerbach – Beachland Ballroom – Cleveland, OH – 03/05/09 – Concert Review

It was an entertaining evening Thursday night fueled by heavy doses of country twang and serious rock n roll thanks to the bands that performed at one of Cleveland’s best little venues, the Beachland Ballroom. The line-up was enough to call for that simple dreadful sign stating that tickets were sold out. All who were lucky enough to obtain admittance to last night’s performance certainly are still talking about the show that Those Darlins, Hacienda, and Dan Auerbach who is known as the lead signer of The Black Keys all put on.

Having heard about the show last week I decided that it was a show not to be missed and make plans to attend. Accompanied with a couple of friends who have love for the country and the rock I was sure they would have a great time checking out all the bands. We arrived to the Waterloo Rd. venue a little early as I was not certain how long it would take to make the trek there. The Beachland Ballroom is not located exactly downtown Cleveland but just a short drive away on a sketchy yet hip part of town. We arrived with no problems and finally made way into the ballroom. One of the things I like about the Beachland Ballroom is how quaint it is. It reminds me of a gymnasium from a middle school of my past with a stage and no real distractions in the main gathering area itself.

Calling them darlings is an understatement...
Calling them darlings is an understatement...

Once we finally got in we made a pit stop at the merch tables and I dropped five dollars on Those Darlin’s Wild One EP. For three songs the five bucks was totally worth it. The main reason I even planned on attending the concert was because of the trio of ladies otherwise known as Those Darlins. I just had received a taste of their sound last week and promptly posted a blog about it. What I heard not only made my day but also made me what to see them perform live.

Normally people get excited for the main act at a concert and the openers are almost like icebreakers for the evening. For the first time in a long time this was not the case for me. I dig the Black Keys and I have seen them live before. I actually had not heard the solo release yet on Dan Auerbach yet and to be honest I was more interested in seeing the opener over the other two bands.

Nashville’s neighboring sweethearts Those Darlins took the stage to a decent sized crowd and opened with “Wild One“. I think it is safe to say that they impressed the crowd right away physically and musically with their mix of country, folk, bluegrass, and sass. Dressed to impress, the three fine-looking girls and their mustache clad drummer had an amazing stage presence and were all smiles through their set. Sipping on strong drinks in between songs the girls shared singing duties and entertained all. “I love you” was shouted more than one time, and although I admit a major crush on the three darlings, I assure you it was not me.

They played the two other tracks on their Wild One EP including the humorous “Whole Damn Thing” as well as a healthy bout of tunes to be hopefully released on their debut CD in June. At times they sounded like The Carter Family and other times reminded me of a female version of Hank Williams III but much better looking. Seeing them live on stage having such a good time really added to the attraction. I was not ready for them to finish when they did and really could have listened to them play all night with their unique sound. I can only hope for a return by the sassy ladies once their debut CD is released.

Dan Auerbach
Dan Auerbach

Many people were excited to see the San Antonio rock jam band Hacienda take stage. I wish I could say I was too, but honestly the only thing I knew about this band is that they were backing up Dan Auerbach during his set and that their latest album, Loud Is The Night, was recorded at Dan Auerbach’s Akron Analog . I checked out some of the set and at times was shaking my head along to the beat. It was good music, but just not what I was looking to hear at the time.

Dan Auerbach with Hacienda and friends took stage after a short break. It was at this moment that I realized how sold out the show really was as I could barely move through the crowd to find a good place to watch the headliner. With only hearing a track or two off of Dan Auerbach’s Keep It Hid I knew it was not anything Black Keys but still was not completely sure what was going to happen.

The sounds Dan Auerbach and crew put forth reminded me of early rock at it’s finest with a jam feel at times. Each member on the stage had their own specialty to make the live performance even more interesting. Guitar solos, dual vocals, and smiles ear to ear by the performers just added to the good time being had by all. I got a huge kick out of the duel drumming and especially seeing Patrick Hallahan from My Morning Jacket do his thing moving from drum set to congo and maraca and even beating upon a giant triangle. Rocking out until after midnight the band continued to electrify. I can not tell you what songs they played as I still have yet to pick up the CD but I can tell you Keep It Hid is on my “to buy” list.

It was an excellent night for new music to hit my ears thanks to all three acts playing on stage. I became a bigger fan of Those Darlins as well as gotten a good taste of what Dan Auerbach’s solo material sounds like backed with a full band. Spite the sold out crowd it was a great evening and I know I was not the only one who enjoyed it. If these three acts happen to come your way and you are looking for a night of fun and music do yourself a favor and grab a ticket before it sells out.

The tour continues for just a few more dates.  Catch them if you can!

March 5 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
March 6 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
March 7 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
March 10 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
March 11 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
March 13 – San Francisco, CA @ Bimbo’s
March 14 – Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre