Attack and Release, the new album from The Black Keys, finds the Akron blues-rock duo toning things down a bit while simultaneously expanding beyond the confines of their usual drums-and-guitar sound. But on stage, Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney retain their stripped-down bombast, making more noise than many bands with double the membership.
Which leads us to the question: Which rock duos stir up the most powerful racket? The Black Keys will make their case next Thursday at LC Pavilion. Excluding acts that use samples, drum machines or other fancy parlor tricks, here are some more worthy contenders.
Columbus' own Don Howland and Bim Thomas (now relocated to Asheville and Cleveland, respectively) recently reunited for the Columbus Discount Records anniversary party, a welcome reminder that the minimal bluesy scruff that made the Keys famous was going strong in the '90s before it exploded in the oughts.
They began as a trio, but by 2003, when this Providence group became underground royalty with the seminal Wonderful Rainbow, they were down to two dudes. Brian Gibson's absurdly distorted bass skronks out earthquake rumbles and high-pitched shredding while Brian Chippendale lets loose on drums and shrieks into a mic.
The White Stripes
Who needs vocals when you can have virtuosic riffs and blitzkrieg drums? Spencer Seim and Zach Hill beat the hell out of their instruments, but they do it with enough pizzazz to satisfy music-theory majors the world over. It was a beautiful thing, but they had to go ruin it by adding more musicians and even a singer for last year's There's No 666 in Outer Space. (To be fair, in retrospect that album was actually sort of awesome.)
Charles the Osprey
The little-known Grand Rapids combo loves being in a duo so much that they organized an entire event - last weekend's Fes2val - soundtracked exclusively by two-man bands. The powerful pair has a sound similar to Hella's, with lots of sweet riffage that's as harmonious as it is aggressive.
The Black Keys
Thursday, Oct. 9
LC Pavilion, Arena District