Home Read Albums Of The Week: The Black Keys | Dropout Boogie

Albums Of The Week: The Black Keys | Dropout Boogie

The dependable blues-rock duo get down with a little help from some new friends.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “After 10 albums (the last five of which have gone top 10 or better), six Grammy awards and sold-out tours around the world, The Black Keys are back with Dropout Boogie.

Boasting collaborations with Billy F Gibbons (ZZ Top), Greg Cartwright (Reigning Sound) and Angelo Petraglia (Kings of Leon), Dropout Boogie arrives one day before the 20th anniversary of The Black Keys’ first album, The Big Come Up. As they have done their entire career, the duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney wrote all of the material in the studio, and the new album captures a number of first takes that hark back to the stripped-down blues-rock of their early days making music together in Akron, Ohio, basements.

“That’s always been the beauty of the thing Pat and I do. It’s instant,” Auerbach says. “We’ve never really had to work at it. Whenever we’d get together, we’d just make music, you know? We didn’t know what we were going to do, but we’d just do it and it would sound cool. It’s the natural chemistry Pat and I have. Being in a band this long is a testament to that. It was a real gift that we were given. I mean, the odds of being plopped down a block-and-a-half from each other in Akron, Ohio — it just seems crazy.”

After hashing out initial ideas as a duo at Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville, Auerbach and Carney welcomed Gibbons, Cartwright and Petraglia to the sessions. Although The Black Keys have previously co-written songs with frequent producer/collaborator Danger Mouse, this is the first time they have invited multiple contributors to work simultaneously on one of their own albums.

“Living in Nashville and making records here has opened both of our minds to that experience a little bit more,” said Auerbach. “I knew Pat would love working with both of these guys, so we decided we’d give it a shot. It was the first time we’d ever really done that. It was fun as hell. We just sat around a table with acoustic guitars and worked out a song ahead of time.” Adds Carney: “The cool thing with Greg is that he wants to approach stuff with a story in mind — there’s a plot, almost.”

The Black Keys first jammed with guitar legend Gibbons more than a decade ago in Los Angeles, while ZZ Top was working on an album with producer Rick Rubin. “We never even really wrote one song — we just had some ideas we put down,” Carney said. “We really just wanted to hang out with him. We stayed in touch, and Dan invited him to the studio once we started working on this album.”

Between the duo’s albums, Auerbach, through his Easy Eye Sound studio and label, has produced and co-written with artists including Yola, Marcus King, Robert Finley, Ceramic Animal, and The Velveteers. Carney has also been busy as a producer at his Nashville-by-way-of-Akron studio Audio Eagle, where he has worked with Michelle Branch, Tennis, Jessy Wilson, Calvin Johnson and The Sheepdogs, among others.

Last year, The Black Keys received their 14th Grammy nomination, this time for Best Contemporary Blues Album for Delta Kream, which was released in May 2021. The project, which features 11 Mississippi hill country blues songs by artists such as R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, was the band’s fifth consecutive top 10 debut on The Billboard 200. Internationally, Delta Kream was the band’s fourth consecutive top 10 album in the U.K., where it debuted at No. 5. It reached the top 10 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Croatia and Switzerland, among others, and scored career peaks in several countries.”