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Archive for December, 2008

Dan Auerbach Solo Album

I was listening to Dan’s new solo songs on his MySpace page at work today.

There’s only 3 songs to judge from but it’s clear the album, Keep It Hid,  is going to be a really interesting listen.

“Trouble Weighs A Ton” is a slow, stripped back, rootsy number.

“I Want Some More” and “The Prowl” have some trademark psychedelic distortion on the guitar.

“I Want Some More” could well be a straight up Black Keys song with the distinctive thump-thump drum work. The layers of guitar on this track are really cool.

The drum intro on “The Prowl” has a real hip-hop beat flavour. It influences the looping vocal delivery that Dan gives the lyrics.

Can’t wait for the album when it  is released February 10, 2009.

I reckon this photo of Dan that I took in Sydney 2008 sums up the dark feel of the albums lyrics.

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It’s that time of year again when everyone looks back at what was and what could have been. It’s no different for me and The Black Keys. Here’s a few observations about the band in 2008. And some crystal ball gazing about 2009.

2008

The Black Keys (almost) became part of a mainstream consciousness.From Letterman to Lollapalooza the band must have played more shows in 2008 than any other year. It seems Dan and Pat have been on the road constantly. Across the States, Europe, Australia (twice) and elsewhere.

They are certainly getting themselves out there but I for one fear burn out. Geez, they both have wives who I’m sure would love to see them more.

The new Attack & Release album came out to almost universal praise. It was a landmark in that it was so strong and diverse after the ‘OK but  more of the same’ nature of Magic Potion. It’s opened more ears than any other. All the DIY recording over the years seemed to be expressed so well in th is big studio sound album.

Attack and Release seems to be on so many peoples ‘Top Albums of 2008’ lists. Everyone also talks about the hip hop production connection of Danger Mouse on the album yet The Black  Keys have always loved hip hop and the Wu-Tang Clan specifically. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but their first album The Big Come Up remains the only album to feature samples.

Busy as they are the band has still found time to variously start their own label, found their own recording studio and help produce numerous up and coming bands we’ll no doubt hear alot more from in 2009.

The year was neatly wrapped and packaged by the new Crystal Ballroom Live DVD. It really showcased the breadth of sound, confidence and musical command of the band.

The band has always had a respect for grass roots poster art and publicity and we’ve covered this quite a bit this year. The new Black Keys official website leveraged off their album artwork and provided a strong identity.

As popular as they get Dan and Pat still have a real approachable quality to their personalities, wear Converse, and talk about fast food in more interviews than all other bands combined.

2009?

I’m still hopeful The RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan will produce the next album.

Who knows where Dan’s solo project will lead.  I can only think it will be positive for the band to take a break. But then again it seems when the creative juices are flowing you’ve got to bottle them as fast as possible before the mojo vanishes as fast as it could previously be pumped.

Prediction: Dan will shave his beard off. Just like Liam Finn did after my post about their hairy visage.

Hopefully someone will answer my question about who is The Black Keys Roadie?

Hopefully all these questions and more will be answered if I can get an interview with the band when they arrive in Australia in early 2009. Come what may I’ll still be jibbering on about them in 2009.

Have a safe and prosperous Festive Season.

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Brad Pitt likes The Black Keys

Ahh we’re all doomed now. Or maybe the end is almost nigh. Maybe it just had to happen sooner or later. Or maybe it’s a good thing that Brad Pitt likes The Black Keys? Or really what difference does it make anyway?

In a recent Rolling Stone article, Brad says:

“Last new thing I got into was the Black Keys.”

Maybe a whole new set of fans will start turning up to gigs now. Annoyingly the interview doesn’t make anymore mention of why he likes them.

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Recently I wrote a post about the Black Keys posters the band commissions to promote their live shows.

I noted one of the best Black Keys poster artists was Chicago native, Dan Grzeca. I love his posters and other Black Keys poster art fans might do too.

I wanted to know more so I contacted Dan Grzeca and he was kind enough to share his thoughts, explain a little more about his Black Keys posters and his connection with the band.

Below the interview are the posters Dan refers to in the interview.

How and when did you first get started in doing poster art generally?

I started making posters about 12 years ago for bands in Chicago, mostly for Ken Vandermark and the Free Jazz scene here. I was introduced to screenprinting by Steve Walters and Bob Hartzell initially.

How did you first make contact with The Black Keys to produce poster art for them? Or did they contact you?

I was hired by the Metro to make a poster in Dec 2005 for a pair of ‘Keys shows; I met Patrick at Pitchfork the following year when I was showing my work there. From there I started working with the band directly on making posters.

Any idea how many Black Keys specific posters you have done now?

Probably 15 or so.  I need to go count.

Does the band give you complete freedom of expression for each poster?

They do.  It’s really great.  Dan and Patrick are super nice and seem to like the insanity I pour into my work.   I have a lot of fun making images for their shows.

Do you approach designing a poster that will be used to promote a show in a specific place differently to others? ie. London, England, vs Akron, Ohio

Sometimes I do, subconcsciously.  First I always want to make sure each poster functions in a pretty direct, iconic way visually..  The last Akron poster was specifically one that would only to me work in an American venue, esp the midwest, with this sort of mythic woodend dog wandering through the hills.   I had just made a poster before that for a show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. I had to use the Bald Eagle with a broken down shack.  I just had to.

Black Keys posters are quite varied in their look for each show. The horse and eagle motifs are represented in a few, although represented in very different ways. Is there something about the band that triggers those representations or is the symbology just what you are interested in?

It’s a case of images and symbols I’m interested in generally and directing them to the band specifically. The Eagle was great to use as the Keys are what I would call, in no ironic sense, a great American rock band.

I presume you like the band’s music. Or is this irrelevant to how you express yourself with the poster art?

I pretty much have to really like a band’s music to make posters for them.  The progression on the last 4 ‘Keys records has been great to listen to.  I really appreciate their covers (Beefheart, Sonics) too.

Do you have collectors buying every print you do for the band?

I do.  It gets crazy.

Any specific Black Keys projects you are working on now that you would like to let Black Keys’ fans about?

Just drumming up ideas for shows in 09 that they might need posters for.  I have piles of sketchbooks with thumbnails of poster and print ideas, so there is no lack of images waiting to turn into posters.

Any advice for budding poster artists trying to get their break?

Make a lot of work, start locally and then build up from there.  Love what you do, or don’t even get into it.

How can fans buy your Black Keys artwork?
I sell my posters in my online shop: www.jetsah.etsy.com

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