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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dan Auerbach -- Keep it Hid


After working within such tight parameters with his main gig, The Black Keys, front man, Dan Auerbach, opens things up a bit with his solo debut, Keep It Hid.
Jeez, that was a lot of commas.  The confining laws of grammar can easily be compared to the strict musical guidelines The Black Keys seem to follow.  One guitar, drums, and vocals  (I don't know what it is about bands with colors in their names restricting themselves. I'm looking at you, White Stripes...oh, wait...nevermind).  On top of that, The Black Keys often run one riff into the ground for four minutes and call it a song.
Confession:  I've never made it all the way through one song.  I mean, never made it through a Black Keys song, not a song song.  I've made it through plenty of those...otherwise, these reviews would require a lot more imagination...Yes, that was a self-deprecating dig.  Yes, I guess I'll dive straight back into this review now.
On February 3rd, 2010, I was watching a rather emotional episode of the television program, Friday Night Lights, when a comforting song suddenly buffeted a very trying scene (Seriously, "Laboring" was a great episode, and the second half of that fourth season is just brutal).  I liked the song and filed it away in my brain.
On January 25th, 2011, I was watching the underrated and sadly cancelled program, Lights Out, when up popped the same song.  I finally decided to seek out this piece of music and found it was "When the Night Comes," by some dude named Dan Auerbach.

I looked the guy up, and what do you know, it's the dude from The Black Keys, that self-constricting, self-restricting band I didn't like. Self-constricting because their songs wrap around themselves like a python until there isn't any air left. Self-restricting because their songs all sound the same.
Thankfully, Keep It Hid explores a lot more musical territory than your typical Black Keys album.  Auerbach really explores his love for late 60's and early 70's rock music on this album to a degree his work with The Black Keys only hints. To be completely honest, if not for the drum machine that kicks off "Real Desire," one could easily fool someone into thinking Keep It Hid was forty years old.  For all I know, that drum machine might actually be that ancient.
Auerbach also explores his love for Southern Music.  The song mentioned above could easily have soundtracked Morganza High School's 1968 Senior Prom.
In case I haven't made it clear yet, this album is nostalgia-tinged. Perhaps Auerbach's love for this type of music really inspired him to push himself.  All of these songs are good, and while his trademarked dirty-toned, repetitive guitar playing can be trying at spare moments, Keep it Hid easily features more varied and dynamic song structures than anything Auerbach has ever recorded.  Also, taking a page from the kudzu vines that crawl over every mile of the region Auerbach worships here, Keep It Hid's song are absolutely infectious, and unbeholden to any rules.

2009 Nonesuch
1. Trouble Weighs a Ton 2:19
2. I Want Some More 3:49
3. Heartbroken, In Disrepair 3:21
4. Because I Should 0:53
5. Whispered Words (Pretty Lies) 4:06
6. Real Desire 4:25
7. When the Night Comes 4:11
8. Mean Monsoon 3:47
9. The Prowl 3:17
10. Keep It Hid 3:41
11. My Last Mistake 3:14
12. When I Left the Room 4:01
13. Street Walkin' 4:39
14. Goin' Home 4:56


buck09 said...

Gonna have to get me some of this. Love that song on the youtube video. I however, love the Black Keys as well, so go figure. Their latest album is infectious as hell and I found to be heads and shoulders better than their earlier stuff, which I'm assuming is the stuff that you didn't like so much.

Nicholas said...

Yeah, I was referring to the older stuff. I like that their new album is called El Camino and has a minivan on the cover, so maybe I should check it out.
You should definitely look into this.

buck09 said...

Yep El Camino is a great record. And I have since listened to this record and agree its great as well. Also, picked up the new Chris Robinson Brotherhood album yesterday and it is great as well. Great, great, and great is all I have to say. Check out the new Chris Robinson solo record 'Big Ritual Moon'.

Nicholas said...

Is that the dude from Black Crowes? My bro-in-law loves his stuff, and Black Keys as well. Have to check it out.