The Black Keys

Magic Potion (Nonesuch)

Phases & Stages

The Black Keys

Magic Potion (Nonesuch)

The Black Keys have alchemized two equally potent versions of retro rock. One pays homage to its inspiration – this year's Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough EP, Robert Pete Johnson's "Grown So Ugly," the Beatles' "She Said, She Said." The other cooks in the blues tradition, mixing sleight-of-hand rearrangements and borrowed roots. The Magic Potion of the Akron, Ohio, duo's fourth full-length is clearly the latter, disguising its 11 gut-wrenching, fuzzed-out tunes in various moonshine shades of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Robert Johnson. The dead giveaway is "Just a Little Heat," which face-lifts Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" like "The Lemon Song" cleaned Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor." At this point, homage is almost expected of the Keys, but in doing so, the band is starting to dilute the "Heavy Soul" and Thickfreakness of their earlier material, as well. Maybe it's time to put the bottle down altogether. (Catch the Black Keys Dec. 9 at La Zona Rosa.)

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