Dan Auerbach: Life Beyond The Black Keys

At this point in our young century, Dan Auerbach’s trademark sound is damn near inescapable. His entrancingly fuzzy slide work, moody atmospherics, velvety reverb, and love for prominently framed percussion all pop up in albums by garage punks, shaggy hard rockers, folkies, rappers, and even pop divas. Of course, it’s through the wildly influential jams of The Black Keys (whom Auerbach has co-produced for most of the duo’s career) that his sound has left such a profound impact on modern music, but that’s not its only path. After all, in addition to maintaining a solo career—including his upcoming June 2017 release Waiting On a Song—as well as a clutch of side projects (The Arcs record from 2015 is a particularly tasty highlight), he has evolved into one of the music industry’s most in-demand producers.

Much like The Black Keys’ music, Auerbach’s immediately identifiable work behind the boards has become more sophisticated with time. Patrick Sweany’s “Them Shoes,” from 2007, is a slab of husky, stripped-down blues rock that’s light years removed from the intensely textural swamp funk and gris-gris soul comprising Dr. John’s 2012 gem Locked Down, one of Auerbach’s most ambitious productions to date. Even when Auerbach, who possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of music history, steps outside of his rock ‘n’ blues comfort zone, he leaves a unique sonic imprint on the work of other artists. This is certainly the case with Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence, on which he wraps the singer’s art-pop noir in layers of nostalgia-kissed echo and sustain so plush, your ears will sink into them. This is also true of Nikki Lane’s outlaw-country epic All Or Nothin’, which boasts the same throbbing groove hypnotics heard on the Keys’ albums.

Compiling tunes from all these albums and a whole mess more, including some overlooked production nuggets like the Buffalo Killers’ stoner-rock trip Let it Ride, our playlist is sure to impress even the most diehard Auerbach fans.

Click here to follow this playlist on Spotify.