The Black Keys - Rubber Factory (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Black Keys

Rubber Factory (2004)

Fat Possum/Epitaph

Being a two piece neo-bluesy rock n' roll act will instantly draw comparisons to a few well known no-talent ass clowns. That's a shame since The Black Keys are everything those bar-brawling shit-fuckers wish they were. Rubber Factory is the follow up to 2003's Thickfreakness, and is nothing but grittier, catchier, and more raw.

Rubber Factory comes as a Blues 101 course taught by Professor Punk Rock. The guitar is bluesy, edgy and fuzzed out of its mind. The drums are simplistic and 100% Keith Moon, 100% '73 Motown. Slap down some of the most soulful vocals I've heard in a long time on top of that, and you've got yourself one tasty sandwich.

"When the Lights Go Out" kicks off the CD with drums that emulate the sounds of an industrial factory, as a violin plays one note steadily in the background to sound like a warning alarm. The advertised single, "10 A.M. Automatic," follows with a catchy three chord hook, and straight forward drums. It's the perfect single. Not only is it catchy, but it gives a good sample of the band without giving away the best. "Just Couldn't Tie Me Down" and "Keep Me" draw influence from old blues greats like Muddy Waters or B.B. King. Easily my favorite track, "Grown So Ugly," channels the spirit of Hendrix with it's raucous riffs and pounding drums. "Act Nice and Gentle" is a refreshing honky-tonk country-blues with excellent slide guitar work accompaniment.

I can't stress enough how amazing and bluesy and soulful Dan Auerbach's vocals are. Raspy, yet rich, he pours true emotion out of his vocal chords, crooning the blues to America's youth. He's a true modern day blues-man, pulling out amazing solos that rely on guitar tone almost as much as the notes that he's playing. As if that wasn't enough to sell the band, Patrick Carney's drumming is simple, masterful, and ripe with subtle technique. He knocks his skins not to keep the rhythm, but to accentuate the guitar and vocals, proving that he's not auxiliary, but necessary and irreplaceable.

Overall, The Black Keys put out a solid and amazing piece of music. The only downside to this that I found was that listening to the entire album through got slightly repetitious, but maybe that's because I've listened to it 10 times through since I got it two days ago.