In one of the most eagerly awaited collaborations in alt-rock, The Black Keys are joined by producer Danger Mouse, adding more instrumentation and effects to the band’s sound but preserving their inherent soulfulness, groove, and raw energy, for an album Filter says seems to have "dropped out of the heavens with a fistful of downright biting blues-rock."
The Black Keys’ fifth full-length LP, Attack & Release, follows their 2006 critically acclaimed Nonesuch debut Magic Potion, which the Chicago Tribune proclaimed, “a gritty, wild, minimalist masterpiece.” Produced by Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, The Gorillaz, The Grey Album), Attack & Release was recorded at engineer Paul Hamann’s illustrious Suma Studio outside Cleveland, Ohio. Initial collaboration began when Danger Mouse (a.k.a. Brian Burton) approached the band to write songs for an album he was developing with the late R&B legend Ike Turner. As the band began composing tracks for Turner early last year, though, they quickly realized they were actually laying the groundwork for a new album of their own.
Attack & Release thus became The Black Keys’ first collaborative effort, as it morphed into their own album with Danger Mouse as producer. By recording in an actual studio (another first), guitarist-vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney were given the opportunity to add a variety of instruments to their usual simple set-up—including organ, moog, and banjo. “After recording our previous albums in a basement, we were ready to go somewhere else,” Auerbach confesses. “Danger Mouse came in as our collaborator. He has a real ear for melody and arrangement and that was a big part of this record, as was the studio…a really special place.”Carney concurs: “The place is covered with dust, it smells like a moldy cabin, and it looks like a haunted house. It was fitting for our first time going into a real studio.” He continues, “I think Dan and I were intrigued to work with somebody as a producer, and with an engineer like Paul, because we both realized we couldn’t teach ourselves anything more and it was best to start learning from other people.”
Besides Auerbach, Carney, and Danger Mouse’s work, other contributions on Attack & Release include guitarist Marc Ribot and multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney (Patrick’s uncle)—both veterans of, among other things, Tom Waits’ band. The closing track, “Things Ain’t Like They Used To Be,” features Auerbach singing along side eighteen-year-old bluegrass/country-singer Jessica Lea Mayfield.The Black Keys have released four albums prior to Attack & Release––2002’s The Big Come Up, 2003’s Thickfreakness, 2004’s Rubber Factory, and 2006’s Magic Potion.
Produced by Danger Mouse
Recorded by Paul Hamann August 9-23, 2007 at Suma Recording Studio, Painesville, OH, on the recording console that he and his father, Ken, built together in 1973
Mixed by Kennie Takahashi, Danger Mouse, and The Black Keys
Mix Assistant: Todd “iTod” Monfalcone
Mastered by Robert C. Ludwig at Gateway Mastering & DVD, Portland, ME
All songs written by The Black Keys, published by McMoore McLeest Publishing (BMI), administered by Chrysalis Music
Artwork & Design by Michael Carney
This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.
The Black Keys:
Dan Auerbach, guitars, vocals, and lots of other instruments
Patrick Carney, drums and lots of other instruments
Danger Mouse, Hohner Bass 3, Moog and Korg synthesizers, piano, and some organ too
Carla Monday, harmony vocals (2, 4, 5)
Jessica Lea Mayfield, harmony vocal (11)
Ralph Carney, jaw harp (2), contrabass clarinet (5), clarinet (6, 7), flute (8), concert bass (8)
Marc Ribot, guitar solo (5, 9), rhythm guitar (6), slide guitar (10)