Akron's explosive blues duo the Black Keys have wrapped work on their next LP. The Rubber Factory, recorded in downtown Akron's disused General Tire factory, is slated for a September 7 release on Fat Possum/Epitaph.
"It sounds great," says singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach, who calls the album "more experimental than the last," 2003's Thickfreakness. "I think it's better all around."
The Keys -- Auerbach and Patrick Carney -- can claim all the credit. Despite generating a worldwide buzz, getting nominated for a Shortlist award, and selling around 40,000 copies of Thickfreakness, the duo opted to self-produce the disc.
"We're really not into that," Auerbach says of hiring an outside producer. "It's always been just the two of us. We weren't starving for creativity. We just needed time to create."
The 13-track album further fattens the group's sound with a lap steel guitar, fiddle, and marching-bass drum. It includes a cover of Robert Pete Williams' "Grown So Ugly" and a borderline-country version of the Kinks' "Act Nice and Gentle," along with a thundering version of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues."
After appearances at Coachella and Bonnaroo, the Keys will wrap a busy festival season on July 4 at Akron's Lock 3 Live.
· After hitting one out of the park with Dead Even's Of Constant Rotation EP, Mushroomhead drummer-programmer Steve "Skinny" Felton has produced a disc for Gizmachi, a New York-based prog-metal band managed by Slipknot's Shawn "Clown" Crahan. So much for the supposed feud between the masked bands.
"Even before [Mushroomhead's latest, XIII] came out, I haven't heard much about a rivalry," says 'Head vocalist J. Mann. "I think people are over it."
· Lakewood's Virginia Marti College of Art and Design's newest elective is "How to Release a CD," a 10-week course taught by Without Fear Recordings label head Joe Simon. The musician-DJ-producer will host seven guest speakers from the music industry, helping to demystify the process of issuing an album. Students will produce and distribute a CD, capping the process with a release party.
"This is a good opportunity to help other people, so they don't have to go through 14 years of frustration like I have," Simon says. The class takes place Saturday afternoons beginning June 12. Details are available at www.purpleman.com and www.vmcad.edu.
· Q104 FM has selected three local songwriters to compete for a slot opening for the Dave Matthews Band at Blossom on June 29. Visit www.Q104.com to vote for Will Bowen, Joe Rohan, or Robin Stone. It's a win-win for most of the musicians involved: Most of Rohan's band plays with Bowen, and some -- including Rohan -- play with Stone.
· Club Voodoo's Akron Idol I & II winners Chris Mitchell and Steve Thompson are taking their show on the road. Backed by the CMP (Chris Mitchell Project) Band, Mitchell and Thompson are performing original, summery pop-rock and covers of Dishwalla, Live, and the Eagles. The group -- billed as the catchy "Akron Idol Winners Chris Mitchell and Steve Thompson, Featuring the CMP Band" -- makes its Cleveland debut at the Hi-Fi Club Saturday, June 5. Akron Idol III is now under way, with finals set for June 14.
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