||The Black Keys
||Fat Possum Records
Though the Black Keys resemble post-punk garage revivalists like the White Stripes, and are likely to raise an eyebrow among old-school blues purists, the duo packs a serious blues punch. The minimal sound of RUBBER FACTORY moves on the rickety skeleton of Dan Auerbach's fuzzed-out guitar and Patrick Carney's no-frills drumming, and stays true to the raw, electric blues for which the Fat Possum label (the Black Keys' home) is rightfully famous. RUBBER FACTORY bears the ghosts of Fat Possum artists like Junior Kimbrough and CeDell Davis, and through them, naturally, electric pioneers like Muddy Waters. The Keys mine this tradition admirably, with a sincere approach to the blues idiom bolstered by Auerbach's soulful vocals and the duo's stripped-down, juke-joint sound. But the Keys are not merely paying homage. Instead, they layer funky grooves ("The Desperate Man"), NUGGETS-inspired grunge ("10 A.M. Automatic"), a love of 1970s hard rock ("Grown So Ugly"), and the influence of contemporary indie rock (the acoustic "The Lengths") on their blues structures. In doing so, they achieve a ragged hybrid that stays fiercely true to the roots of blues, while updating the genre for younger generations.