Where Was The Black Keys’ Album Brothers Recorded?

It might seem strange to be discussing where The Black Keys’ album Brothers was recorded now, since the album was released almost a year ago, May 2010. However, it’s been equally strange to note how most media about the album has consistently focused on the album as having been recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama. It’s worth noting where and when the album was recorded since its story is so different to all others. Fans will be asking similar questions about the release of  The Black Keys’ new album, the recording of which has reportedly started in March 2011 in Nashville for a release in late 2011.

Brothers is the first album by The Black Keys to have been recorded at multiple studios over such an amount of time with multiple producers. Generally speaking, the mythology that has developed around the band suggests that they record everything in either a) their basement and/or b) really quickly.

The facts are not so simple for Brothers.

It was seemingly easy for interviewers and those reviewing the album to convey a bite-sized “It was recorded at Muscle Shoals” story. The historical currency of the Muscle Shoals studio was a marketing angle the album was sold on, even if Dan and Pat played down its influence. Producer Danger Mouse’s involvement was often noted especially after the success of Tighten Up. Yet it still seems strange that no one seemingly cared to read the liner notes after the album was released in May 2010.

The Black Keys Fan Lounge also noted that Brothers was recorded at Muscle Shoals when the news first broke that that was where the The Black Keys’ were recording in August 2009. This was later updated.

The songs on Brothers were recorded in no less than four studios over six months or so. The bulk of them were recorded at Muscle Shoals, 10 of the 15. Significant contributions though were recorded at Dan Auerbach’s own Easy Eye studios after the Muscle Shoals session. Not insignificantly Tighten Up was recorded last (December 2009) after there was a desire to create a radio single in. Tighten Up was recorded at The Bunker in Brooklyn, New York, with producer Danger Mouse. Let’s not forget the track These Days, which closes out the album, was recorded at Mark Neill’s Soil of the South studio in mid-2009. Mark Neill of course has a co-producer credit for Brothers but was only involved in the recording of These Days and the Muscle Shoals session.

It might be interesting therefore to listen to the Brothers album in order of the chronological creation. How much of an influence the different recording sessions in different studios, over time, with different producers made to the resulting success of the album is debatable. Certainly though the recording timeline has an influence on the diversity of the sounds on the album and it makes it even more remarkable that the album hangs together so well as a creative document.

Where The Black Keys’ albums were recorded:

The Big Come Up
Recorded at Synth Etiquette Analog Sound, Akron, Ohio between January and February 2002 aka in Pat’s basement

Thickfreakness
Mostly recorded in a single 14-hour session Studio 45, Akron, OH (December 2002); Studio 880 (December 2002) aka Pat’s basement

Rubber Factory
Recorded in a deserted rubber tire factory aka Sentient Sound, Akron, OH (January 2004 – May 2004)

Magic Potion
Produced and recorded by The Black Keys at The Audio Eagle Nest, Akron, OH, 2006

Attack & Release
Produced by Danger Mouse. Recorded by Paul Hamann August 9-23, 2007 at Suma Recording Studio, Painesville, OH.

Brothers
Produced by The Black Keys and Mark Neill (tracks 1, 2, 4, 8-12, 14, 15), Danger Mouse (3), The Black Keys (5-7, 13)
Recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio (1, 2, 4, 8-12, 14); The Bunker, Brooklyn, New York (3); Easy Eye Sound System (5-7, 13); Soil of the South Studios, San Diego (15), 2009.

Who Will Produce The Next Black Keys Album?

Update: We were all wrong. Check out this interview with Mark Neill on recording The Black Keys new album

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A new Black Keys album is being recorded this August for release around March 2010.

With any new album there’s always an expectation from fans. Will it be better than the last? Better than their first? What will it sound like? Who will help produce it?

In order to help answer at least one of those questions, I thought it might be worthwhile polling fans.

I’ve noted some obvious candidates below who might be producing the album.

I’ve always hoped The RZA might be asked to produce.

Considering The Black Keys are playing The Roots Picnic in June 09, I thought The Roots’ drummer ?uestlove might be an outside chance.

Danger Mouse of course produced the last album.

Rick Rubin is interested in the band through the proposed ZZ Top collaboration.

Most albums have of course been self-produced by Dan and Pat. Considering their growing popularity The Black keys will surely be under pressure to use a noted producer or music identity again.

I also think there might be another choice from left field if you read between the lines in some Black Keys interviews.

Don’t be shy, have your say.

2008: The Black Keys Year In Review

It’s that time of year again when everyone looks back at what was and what could have been. It’s no different for me and The Black Keys. Here’s a few observations about the band in 2008. And some crystal ball gazing about 2009.

2008

The Black Keys (almost) became part of a mainstream consciousness.From Letterman to Lollapalooza the band must have played more shows in 2008 than any other year. It seems Dan and Pat have been on the road constantly. Across the States, Europe, Australia (twice) and elsewhere.

They are certainly getting themselves out there but I for one fear burn out. Geez, they both have wives who I’m sure would love to see them more.

The new Attack & Release album came out to almost universal praise. It was a landmark in that it was so strong and diverse after the ‘OK but  more of the same’ nature of Magic Potion. It’s opened more ears than any other. All the DIY recording over the years seemed to be expressed so well in th is big studio sound album.

Attack and Release seems to be on so many peoples ‘Top Albums of 2008′ lists. Everyone also talks about the hip hop production connection of Danger Mouse on the album yet The Black  Keys have always loved hip hop and the Wu-Tang Clan specifically. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but their first album The Big Come Up remains the only album to feature samples.

Busy as they are the band has still found time to variously start their own label, found their own recording studio and help produce numerous up and coming bands we’ll no doubt hear alot more from in 2009.

The year was neatly wrapped and packaged by the new Crystal Ballroom Live DVD. It really showcased the breadth of sound, confidence and musical command of the band.

The band has always had a respect for grass roots poster art and publicity and we’ve covered this quite a bit this year. The new Black Keys official website leveraged off their album artwork and provided a strong identity.

As popular as they get Dan and Pat still have a real approachable quality to their personalities, wear Converse, and talk about fast food in more interviews than all other bands combined.

2009?

I’m still hopeful The RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan will produce the next album.

Who knows where Dan’s solo project will lead.  I can only think it will be positive for the band to take a break. But then again it seems when the creative juices are flowing you’ve got to bottle them as fast as possible before the mojo vanishes as fast as it could previously be pumped.

Prediction: Dan will shave his beard off. Just like Liam Finn did after my post about their hairy visage.

Hopefully someone will answer my question about who is The Black Keys Roadie?

Hopefully all these questions and more will be answered if I can get an interview with the band when they arrive in Australia in early 2009. Come what may I’ll still be jibbering on about them in 2009.

Have a safe and prosperous Festive Season.

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