It says something when a band's first attempt at recording an album (on a tascam consumer 8 track) winds up delivering a theme song for an iconic HBO ("Hung") show 7 years later. It also says something when an act stripped down to vocals, guitar and drums can continue to escalate their career on their own terms. While "polishing" one's sound is inevitable after playing for 9 years straight - tonight's Black Keys gig at Cruzan in front of 10,000 people will essentially be the same as when I saw them at the gypsy tea room in Dallas. Two guys, turned up to 11, cranking out a signature sound that falls somewhere in between the late blues great Junior Kimbrough and the non-guitar hero moments of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
The infectousness of that sound is why in just 2 years, the 'Keys went from playing their basement to headlining large clubs. While it may have taken another 7 years to bump up to the next level, their grind has produced some sweet coffee. The Black Keys latest Lp - "Brothers" - debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts. The first single "Tighten Up" recently won an MTV VMA Award. While MTV doesn't really do music anymore, the video, which demonstrates why playground love triangles never work - has had over one million, eight hundred thousand views. The song is catchy, the concept is clever and the story is universal. It's no wonder the Black Keys are movin' on up ala "The Jeffersons."