The Black Keys are about to release their ninth album. The record, Let’s Rock, is the band’s first since 2014. Before Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach add another hit LP to their discography, here are the 10 most essential Black Keys songs:
The Black Keys most famous music video is one of the simplest visual concepts possible. One actor dancing to a song. The video blew up and went viral beyond expectations. Derrick T. Tuggle transitioned from actor/musician/security guard to sensation. The Lonely Boy dancer even wound up on Ellen.
Gold On The Ceiling
This Black Keys song was everywhere in 2012. You couldn’t avoid hearing it on the radio, commercials, or movies. Producer Danger Mouse/Brian Burton made immeasurable impact on the band’s career during Brothers and El Camino. None more pronounced than the simple, catchy keyboard strokes that opened up “Gold On The Ceiling.”
Little Black Submarines
The fourth El Camino single was a great contrast to the more up-tempo radio plays “Lonely Boy,” “Dead And Gone,” and “Gold On The Ceiling.” “Little Black Submarines” is a phenomenal garage rocker. This is one of the rare Black Keys songs defined by a lengthy guitar solo. The track also showcases amazing drumming from Patrick Carney. Carney lets loose with a wonderful combination of passion and power. A great contrast as Auerbach melts faces with his solo.
The first of over a dozen Black Keys songs recorded for Brothers, “Next Girl” was a direct reaction to Patrick Carney’s divorce. The mic-drop track stands with Dan Auerbach’s best vocals. His smoky singing narrates lyrics that do not mask the intent of the single. “My next girl will be nothing like my ex girl. I made mistakes back then. I’ll never do it again.”
Howlin’ For You
The second single off Brothers, “Howlin’ For You” possesses tremendous drumming from Patrick Carney. After simple, catchy rhythms, a subtle rumble midway through the song provides a unique bridge to Dan Auerbach’s vocals. The music video stands as the band’s funniest. The parody Kill Bill revenge movie trailer featured cameos from Shaun White, Sean Patrick Flannery, Corbin Bernsen, and Diora Baird.
Of all Black Keys songs, this is the most essential. “Lonely Boy” and “Gold On The Ceiling” had such success on the follow up album that it is easy to forget that this was the track that made the band a household name. The Black Keys played this song on Letterman, making an early appearance with an expanded touring lineup.
I Got Mine
Another TV show spot from The Black Keys on David Letterman saw the band unleash an incredible piece from their early days. The pair appeared in jeans, t-shirt, and flannel. Dan Auerbach’s beard was at its fullest. Against a backdrop of stacked amps and without their now-standard touring support, they were a completely different band in 2008. The album, Attack & Release, was their first with Danger Mouse.
Magic Potion is great as is. It is also emblematic of missed opportunity. In a 2014 interview, the duo revealed how they recorded the LP with basic equipment and little effort on the mastering. Dan Auerbach chalked it up to their roots:
“… that’s because we were from Akron. There was no scene here; we didn’t know anything about mastering. There was no one we could talk to about it — and on top of it, we were just sort of insecure punks who didn’t want to be told what to do.”
The first two minutes of “Strange Desire” are straight up pop rock. After the song’s midway point, the pop dissolves into a slow jam. Another track off Magic Potion, “Strange Desire” some of the the best Black Keys lyrics “I don’t wanna go to hell, but if I do it’ll be because of you.”
Girl Is On My Mind
A track from their third album, Rubber Factory, “Girl Is On My Mind” is a standout Black Keys song from their underproduced era. Inspired by The Sonics, the track sounds like any early garage rock record. Like the rest of the album, the record is fantastic and shows how great the band’s lesser known work is.