Posts Tagged ‘The Black Keys’

The Black Keys‘ ninth studio album, “Let’s Rock”is a return to the straightforward rock of the singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney’s early days as a band. “When we’re together we are The Black Keys, that’s where that real magic is,” says Auerbach, “and always has been since we were sixteen.” “The record is like an homage to electric guitar,” says Carney. “We took a simple approach and trimmed all the fat like we used to.”

The Black Keys have shared a public service announcement. And remember, when you get your friends to pre-order the band’s new album, “Let’s Rock,” you can say: “This is the coolest thing you’ve ever done in your life.”

The band also shared their new video The Black Keys their new song “Go,” from their upcoming album “Let’s Rock.” The video is directed by Bryan Schlam and finds the band struggling to reconnect after five years apart. Pat Carney says, “It was great making this video with Bryan, partially because it was filmed at the very type of place it is making fun of,” and Dan Auerbach adds, “The video was fun, but we still haven’t spoken.” Watch the video for “Go”

New album “Let’s Rock” out June 28th

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The Black Keys spent five years apart before reconnecting for their new album “Let’s Rock”, and during that time, rumors grew about possible friction between band members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (“Did the Black Keys split?” is one of the first Google questions that comes up if you search for the band.)

The duo poke fun at any possible animosity in the the video for their new song “Go,” directed by Bryan Schlam (who has made videos previously for Auerbach ),  Auerbach and Carney, refusing to speak with one another, meet with a therapist before heading to a spiritual retreat, where they work things out, with help from hallucinogens. “It was great making this video with Bryan, particularly because it was filmed at the very type of place it is making fun of,” Carney adds, referring to the spiritual retreat. Auerbach jokes, “The video was fun, but we still haven’t spoken.”

Let’s Rock is out June 28th and is a return to the sound the band became known for: “[It] packs considerably more visceral punch than their last one (2014’s atmospheric, Danger Mouse-helmed Turn Blue) — from the AC/DC chords of album opener ‘Shine a Little Light’ to the Blue Öyster Cult-meets-ZZ Top punch of ‘Eagle Birds’ to the riff-y power pop of ‘Get Yourself Together.’ Rolling Stone’s Brian Hiatt wrote in a piece where the band discussed their return. “There are zero keyboards on the album, and Auerbach played most of the guitar solos live; he’d simply stop playing rhythm and kick into lead.”

“We fell right back into it, really, day one,” Carney said. “We wrote two songs the first day. We’re just fucking around, and that’s what comes out.” The band will be touring heavily behind the album.

New album “Let’s Rock” – June 28th

The Black Keys have announced a new album, “Let’s Rock”, and shared a new song from it, “Eagle Birds.” Let’s Rock is due out June 28th via Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch Records. Listen to “Eagle Birds” below. The album includes “Lo/Hi,” a song they shared back in March . It’s been five years since The Black Keys last released an album, 2014’s Turn Blue. A press release says Let’s Rock”is a return to the straightforward rock of the singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney’s early days as a band.” Auerbach adds: “When we’re together we are The Black Keys, that’s where that real magic is, and always has been since we were 16.”

Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have kept busy in the last half a decade. In 2015 Auerbach released Yours, Dreamilythe debut album by side-project The Arcs, and in 2017 then he released his second solo album, Waiting on a Song. He also started a record label, Easy Eye Sound, named after his recording studio in Nashville, and recorded other artists at the studio. Carney also produced and collaborated with other artists, including Tennis and Tobias Jesso Jr., and recently released a debut album from his side band Sad Planets (which is a collaboration with John Petkovic).

The Black Keys “Eagle Birds” from album “Let’s Rock”, coming June 28th:

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After five years and a countless string of solo endeavors, a record label launch and some work on the animated Netflix show BoJack Horseman — The Black Keys has finally returned with “Lo/Hi.” The Akron, Ohio duo of Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach built its name off chugging, crunchy Southern rock like the type dispensed on “Lo/Hi,” so it’s a welcome return from the gentler sounds that colored the group’s last album, 2014’s Turn Blue.

“Nobody to love you / Nobody to care / Nobody to drug you / No one to hold back your hair,” sings Auerbach of a self-destructive person descending into the throes of rock bottom. There’s hand claps and rich, gospel-style backing vocals, further driving down the song’s moralizing intent.

New single “Lo/Hi” by The Black Keys

Richard Swift

Richard Swift, a former member of indie rock greats, The Shins and The Black Keys has passed away at age 41.  Swift had been suffering from an undisclosed “life-threatening condition”, in which a GoFundMe page was launched last month to help cover his medical bills.

Swift was an essential figure in the indie rock scene, releasing music as a solo artist as well as contributing as an instrumentalist and producer to a slew of other bands. Swift played with The Shins from 2011 to 2016 and was the touring bassist of the Black Keys in 2017.  Dan Auerbach confirmed. Swift, a multi-instrumentalist, had been a member of side project the Arcs, and also a studio owner, producer and film-maker.

“Today the world lost one of the most talented musicians I know,” Auerbach said via Instagram, alongside a picture of the pair together. “He’s now with his Mom and Sister. I will miss you my friend.” A post on Swift’s official Facebook page confirmed his passing, adding, “And all the angels sing ’Que Sera Sera.’”

He played drums in the Arcs and keyboards for Starflyer 59. Swift also lent his production talents to bands Foxygen, Guster, the Mynabirds, Sharon Van Etten, Damien Jurado, Pure Bathing Culture and founded the National Freedom recording studio.
A sad day in the world of music: the sudden passing of Richard Swift. Great producer, instrumental to so many strong artists, but also a wonderful songwriter himself. Hear his double opus “The Novelist / Walking without effort”. He will be missed and heard for times to come.

A post on Swift’s Facebook page reads, “And all the angels sing, “Que Sera Sera”, with tributes from his peers pouring out over social media. The Black Keys’ frontman Dan Auerbach took to Twitter to say, “Today the world lost one of the most talented musicians I know. He’s now with his Mom and Sister. I will miss you my friend.”

Talented musician and producer Richard Swift lost a battle with an undisclosed serious illness on July 3rd, and today the nature of that illness was revealed via this letter:

An update:We are grateful to the many fans, friends, artists and collaborators who have shared their thoughts, love and support this week. It has been a bracing force for many of us.

A number of questions have come up surrounding Swift’s life, his work and his death, and we’d like to answer some of them candidly, here:

Yes, Richard Swift suffered from alcohol addiction, and it’s ultimately what took his life. With the support of family and friends and the assistance of MusiCares, Richard had checked himself into rehab for multiple stays over the past two years, but his body gave out before he could overcome the disease. He was diagnosed with hepatitis and liver and kidney distress in June. Multiple hospitals worked to help stabilize him over the course of that month, but his body was unable to heal and, per his wishes and with his family’s consent, he was moved to hospice care. Richard passed in the early morning of July 3rd, 2018 in a hospice facility in Tacoma, WA. He is survived by his wife Shealynn and their three children Madison, Adrian & Kennedy.

Yes, Richard was working on new music, originally planned for release in November of this year. We do not have a timeline for its completion yet, but we hope to share it with you sooner than that.

With love,

The Swift family, Secretly Canadian & Next Wave Management.

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Plenty of bands through the years have altered their core sound, Sometimes more than once to better fit what was popular at the time. It’s the rare band that manages to pull off the reverse and force the mainstream to come to them. But that’s more or less what The Black Keys accomplished in the mid-aughts, when they went from a niche two-piece playing Junior Kimbrough covers to a rock juggernaut that every beer conglomerate and car dealership wanted soundtracking its TV commercials. The duo began as an independent act, recording music in basements and self-producing their records, before they eventually emerged as one of the most popular garage rock artists during a second wave of the genre’s revival in the 2010s. The band’s raw blues rock sound draws heavily from Auerbach’s blues influences, including Junior Kimbrough, Howlin’ Wolf, and Robert Johnson.

Those lucky enough to have caught guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney in about 2003 with maybe 60 people in the room couldn’t have guessed that in five years’ time these two would be headlining Madison Square Garden. Friends since childhood, Auerbach and Carney founded the group after dropping out of college. After signing with indie label Alive, they released their debut album, The Big Come Up (2002), which earned them a new deal with Fat Possum Records. Over the next decade, the Black Keys built an underground fanbase through extensive touring of small clubs, frequent album releases and music festival appearances.

Fourteen years on, Auerbach’s has released a second solo album, the “Waiting on a Song”, The list of great bands that have spawned equally great solo acts is a short one. But Auerbach has had good reviews. His voice and guitar-playing have become almost ubiquitous over the course of the Black Keys albums and a 2009 solo debut of his own. Some of those fans who go back with The Black Keys pine for the days when Auerbach stomped around on tiny beer-soaked stages, his shouts matched by bolts of shrieking feedback and Carney’s outright abuse of his drum kit. Not everyone bought what these white guys from Ohio were selling, but if there was any doubt that The Black Keys are the genuine article, it was more or less scuttled when Kimbrough’s widow, Mildred, called them to say they were “the only ones that really, really play like Junior played his records.” The Keys were so proud they included Mildred’s voicemail as a track on their 2006 Kimbrough tribute EP, Chulahoma.

THE BLACK KEYS CHULAHOMA CD/LP/DIGITAL FRONT

Chulahoma EP,

As it happened, Chulahoma, was the Keys’ last recording for Fat Possum Records, but also it was the fulcrum that put them on the path they’ve since ridden to arena shows, Until I bought this mini LP I’d never come across the name Junior Kimbrough who, according to good old Wikipedia, was an accomplished blues guitarist from Mississippi, and someone whose music only really began to appear in the 1990’s, thanks largely to independent labels such as Fat Possum and Capricorn Records (the former being mainly responsible for popularising the likes of a one Mr R. L. Burnside, amongst others). Messrs Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney’s approach to paying tribute to this obscure bluesman is appropriately low-key (no pun intended I promise) and suits their style to a tee. All lo-fi acoustics and electric guitar played through amps that probably date back to the 1950’s – while mixed by some veteran engineer with a hearing problem. But that’s ultimately part of its charm, and something which no doubt would appeal to many a young hirsute hipster, who just can’t get their head around all that digital rubbish masquerading as art nowadays.

The EP opens with the primitive and hypnotic “Keep Your Hands Off Her”, where Auerbach’s vocals and guitar sound delightfully ancient. It’s difficult to make out what he’s actually singing, but that’s OK, because The Black Keys seem more intent on capturing a certain feel and resonance rather than any detail in particular. Likewise “Have Mercy on Me”, which is another short though mesmerising number that just draws the listener in with Auerbach’s distorted notes and Carney’s caveman drumming. Auerbach wails his lines as if he were born in the wrong century, thus adding an additional authenticity to the proceedings.

The passionate yearning continues on “Work Me” and “Meet Me In the City”, especially the latter with its shimmery guitar and pleading vocals. The prehistoric ruminations continue on “Nobody but You” where Auerbach plays in a style not too dissimilar to guitar extraordinaire Gary Clarke Jr., another musician who knows a thing or two about the blues. “My Mind is Ramblin’”, the last track, plods along in faulty microphone fashion, and while the main riff can get a bit repetitive, the performance itself is no less affecting.

The Black Keys made the right decision in making Chulahoma an EP, because choosing to release a full length album of this material would likely have tested the patience of even the group’s most fanatical of followers. Nonetheless what they managed to produce was a refined and tasteful mark of respect toward an artist whom Auerbach, based on his liner notes, quite clearly holds in the highest esteem.

Tagged at the end, interestingly, and strangely, is a brief phone message made by Mildred, Kimbrough’s widow who, after having been played this record (obviously before it had officially been released), declared that Auerbach and Carney were “about the only ones who really, really played like Junior played his records, and I’m very proud, it makes me feel very proud.” Well, I guess endorsements don’t come any better than that.

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Turn Blue
The band’s most recent album takes the top spot for their most ironic title, since they’ve never been less blue—at least as far as the music is concerned. If gut-bucket blues was their original foundation, Turn Blue marks the climax of their tear-down renovation, with expensive, gleaming surfaces in place of the trusty old wood panelling, courtesy of frequent collaborator Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton. The album opens with “Weight of Love,” a sprawling psych gem that promises a layered, moody batch of songs to follow. But the next 10 songs don’t quite get there. The pace feels labored on mid-tempo slinkers like “In Time,” “10 Lovers” and “Waiting on Words,” perfectly good songs that lack that familiar spark or intensity. The Keys at this point have cemented a faux-sleaze formula that cribs relentlessly from basically every single kind of American music, and this batch of tunes struggles to hide it.

 THE BLACK KEYS MAGIC POTION CD/LP/DIGITAL FRONT

Magic Potion
Their fifth album and first for Nonesuch took considerable heat for not shaking up the guitar-and-drums-in-a-basement-with-no-heat format, especially after 2006’s high-point “Rubber Factory” had showcased an expanding sound. And it’s true: Auerbach and Carney seemed almost defiant in jumping to a bigger label and promptly burrowing into their scuzziest impulses. But if you loved The Black Keys when they came up, it’s pretty hard not to at least like this album. That electricity between Auerbach and Carney and their seriously overtaxed amplifiers is right there on “Give Your Heart Away,” “Modern Times” and “Black Door.” The two-man swing of “Just Got to Be” and “Your Touch” is primitive but potent. It’s top-shelf caveman blues, songs written on sandpaper, and if you dig it, you dig it. Plus, Auerbach breaks out his blossoming soul-man voice on “The Flame” and “You’re the One” in a tip-off to where the band would go next, so no big loss for the aesthetes out there.

THE BLACK KEYS ATTACK & RELEASE CD/LP/DIGITAL FRONT

Attack and Release
After making the austere, shrug-inducing Magic Potion in 2006, it looked like the Black Keys’ well was running dry. All it took to refill it was the producer from Gnarls Barkley and Ike Turner dying. Danger Mouse had wrangled Auerbach and Carney for a collaboration with Turner, and when Turner passed away in late 2007 they were left with a bunch of songs and no singer. Turned out for the best. Attack and Release showed that Auerbach could write and play outside his established zone, as on slower, more emotive songs like the teary “Lies,” and the rueful, organ-powered “Things Ain’t Like They Used to Be.” Touches of banjo (“Psychotic Girl”), flute (“Same Old Thing”) and some arpeggios (“So He Won’t Break”) subtly expanded the sound, drawing the Keys closer to folk and psychedelic music. Burton’s touches, like the backing vocals on “Strange Times” and the funhouse-mirror guitars on the heavier “I Got Mine,” lent the music a funereal sheen. Attack and Release was a tentative first step into a huge period for the band, like they were walking around in a brand new suit.

THE BLACK KEYS THE BIG COME UP CD/LP/DIGITAL FRONT

The Big Come Up
In early 2003, there was already a weird two-piece garage-rock combo from the Midwest who spewed chainsaw feedback and worshipped vintage blues idols. In fact, The White Stripes’ “Elephant,” with its soon-to-be-played-in-football-stadiums-worldwide anthem “Seven Nation Army,” came out two months before The Black Keys’ debut, so it was hard not to approach “The Big Come Up” in that context. Suddenly here was a shock contender in the race for the band most likely to sound like The Flat Duo Jets. And sure, these two guys from Akron were not inventing a single thing. But from the first growling, low-fi bars of “Busted,” it was clear they’d found lightning in a basement, playing like two guys who were more amazed than anyone that they were this good. Craggy blues originals “Run Me Down,” “Countdown” and “Heavy Soul” mixed seamlessly with standards (“Leavin’ Trunk”) and covers of favorites (R.L. Burnside’s “Busted,” “Junior Kimbrough’s “Do the Rump”). Auerbach was an instant star, with his rich, raspy voice (the only real explanation being a Crossroads-style body switch) and his dual-action guitar—both completely untamed and yet in lockstep with Carney, holding down the low end while riffing on top. The Black Keys would make better albums than this one, but you can never quite recapture the “holy shit” of hearing The Big Come Up for the first time.

THE BLACK KEYS THE BIG COME UP CD/LP/DIGITAL FRONT

THE BLACK KEYS BROTHERS CD/LP/DIGITAL FRONT

Brothers
The Keys’ most critically acclaimed album, Brothers found them fully embracing the Danger Mouse School of Sonic Advancement they’d begun with Attack and Release, even though Mouse returned for just one song here, the bouncy hit single “Tighten Up” On Brothers, they didn’t tear up the playbook so much as update it with more instruments (organs, drum machines, whistling), more minor chords, and a much more controlled vibe on creeping soul songs like “The Only One” and “Too Afraid to Love You,” with its Addams Family harpsichord. “She’s Long Gone” and “Next Girl” sport vintage Auerbach riffs, but where he and Carney used to bash them out fast, here they pulled way back with lurking drums and humid reverb, slathering it on rather than trampling it to death. Auerbach climbs into his highest falsetto for a faithful cover of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It all sounds solid enough, if a little stuck in mid-tempo and done-me-wrong lyrics. And of course it’s formulaic—something The Black Keys can’t help but be.

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El Camino
With a bonafide hit under their belt (2010’s Brothers), The Black Keys struck while the money was hot and made an album that was basically the soundtrack to the unlikely story of an Ohio blues-rock duo that figures out how to write bonafide hits. In the end, they get to play with all the toys—specifically, bubblegum bells and synths and elastic bass guitars. Opener “Lonely Boy” has a clap-along beat with crystalline keys glazed over top and cheesy backup singers on the chorus just for the shit of it. And it works, same as it does on poppier songs like “Dead and Gone” and the T-Rex stampede of “Gold on the Ceiling.” The Keys just seem less stiff than they did on Brothers, totally at ease with making exactly the album they wanted to make. It’s brash and playful (“Money Maker”), tongue-in-cheek glitzy (“Stop Stop”), with big hooks that are almost guilty pleasures. They go for broke on “Little Black Submarines” and just hijack Tom Petty. The anchor is still Carney, who gets his stomp back after the hard turn to moody on Brothers, keeping the show moving along with force and precision.

THE BLACK KEYS THICKFREAKNESS CD/LP/DIGITAL FRONT

Thickfreakness
The Keys’ second album throws its first punch right away, with Auerbach’s guitar revving up like a coal furnace and erupting into the title song. “Thickfreakness” remains one of their best songs, a prowling blues with a face-melting rock bridge (especially in concert). It also encompassed the general direction at this point: sticking with faithful (and volcanic) blues covers (Richard Berry’s “Have Love Will Travel,” Junior Kimbrough’s “Everywhere I Go”) and leaning to classic rock (“Thickfreakness,” “Hard Row”). At this point, though, the Keys were happy to be riff monsters, with Auerbach tearing off one after the other on lonely-boy tales like “No Trust,” “Hurt Like Mine” and “If You See Me,” all with the prodigious boogie that set these guys apart from the start. Patrick Carney’s drumming leaps a mile from The Big Come Up, adding a harder-rock dimension to songs like “Set You Free.” The album was recorded in a single 14-hour session in Carney’s basement, and there’s no room for extravagance or decor.

THE BLACK KEYS RUBBER FACTORY CD/LP/VINYL FRONT

Rubber Factory
Rubber Factory is where the Black Keys’ songs started catching up with their phenomenal talent. They had to. By 2004, there were too many other skyrocketing bands—Strokes, Stripes, Libertines, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Walkmen, et al—carving out corners of a revitalized guitar-rock landscape. Without pulling up the roots (cough Kings of Leon), Auerbach and Carney stretched out, building sturdier structures for their riffs and wringing richer flavors from the same basic ingredients—not an easy feat, as several of those aforementioned bands would attest. Opener “When the Lights Go Out” is a droney blues with a scratchy acoustic guitar out front. “Just Couldn’t Tie Me Down” marches with a second-line shuffle that foreshadowed more Southern-fried horizons for the band. On quieter songs like the aching “The Lengths” and a knockout cover of the Kinks’ “Act Nice and Gentle” (better than the original?), Auerbach mixed in folk and country and found a new gear, a certain sway to suit his more restrained vocals and Carney’s expanding drums. “10 A.M. Automatic” is an indie-rock confection with a closing solo that swallows the song whole. All this, and without giving an inch on the garage-blues crackle that fueled their first two albums—”Keep Me,” “Stack Shot Billy” and the psyched-out “Grown So Ugly” are maybe the duo’s three best blues recordings, all of them infused with the spirits of Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside and T-Model Ford, ducking and weaving on Auerbach’s nimble guitar before delivering knockout blows.

The Black Keys are;
Dan Auerbach, guitars, vocals Patrick Carney, drums

The Black Keys Albums, Ranked

Dan Auerbach will release his sophomore solo album, “Waiting On A Song”, on June 2nd, and the Black Keys frontman. The new album, which has been described as “a love letter to Nashville,” features collaborations with John Prine, Mark Knopfler, Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas, Pat McLaughlin and the Memphis Boys’ Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman.

“Living in Nashville has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way that I record it,” Auerbach said upon the album’s announcement. “I didn’t have all of these resources before. I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived.”

As frontman of The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach has spent the last couple decades glancing longingly backward for inspiration. The band’s consistently Grammy-snagging sound has drawn largely from garage rock and the blues, but Auerbach’s new solo album, Waiting On A Song, is a joyous reminder that there’s more than one way to be retro. Rather than relying on the stomping beats and big riffs of The Black Keys, Waiting On A Song wallows in a laidback vibe that spotlights a quality always present, yet never dominant in Auerbach’s main project: his knack for crafting immaculate, indelible pop.

 

As half of the guitar-and-drums duo The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach has explored, and repeatedly blown up, nearly every shade of the blues for more than a decade. The band’s raw early years in Akron, Ohio, were defined by ragged, high-octane bangers full of heavy riffs and explosive drumming. That gave way to an expansive, radio-polished sound that’s elevated Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney to the status of arena-filling rock stars, but the blues have still been threaded through every iterative step. Now, on the heels of The Black Keys’ 2014 album Turn Blue, Auerbach turns his attention to a different expression of the blues, with his new band The Arcs and yet another stylistic shift. On The Arc’s debut, Yours, Dreamily, it takes the form of immersive R&B and soul, built around buzzy guitars and funky grooves.

It’s not the first time Auerbach has stepped away from his main gig — he’s put out a solo record and produced albums for Dr. John and Lana Del Rey — but with The Arc’s, he assembles a complete creative collaboration. Written and recorded quickly between working on other projects together, Auerbach sought out many of his longtime friends: Leon Michels, Homer Steinweiss and Nick Movshon are all frequent members of the Daptone family, and have played with artists like Sharon Jones and Solange. Then there’s Richard Swift, a distinctive songwriter and producer who’s served as a touring utility player in The Black Keys and The Shins. With contributions from guitarist Kenny Vaughan, Mariachi Flor de Toloache (the New York all-female mariachi band) and Tchad Blake, Yours, Dreamily, captures the spontaneity of players in a room as they come up with something new in the moment.

The Arcs' new album, Yours, Dreamily, comes out Sept. 4.

 

Taken as a whole, Yours, Dreamily, is already one of Auerbach’s most ambitious and fully realized albums. But The Arcs’ formula is so winning and natural that the band already has, at least according to Auerbach, a backlog of as many as 75 songs. If even some of those come to fruition, it could prove to be an enduring, endlessly rewarding collaboration.

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The Black Keys’ video for their seven-minute “Turn Blue” power ballad “Weight Of Love” begins the same way their Fever video ended: With a grainy televised image of frontman Dan Auerbach as a sweaty evangelical preacher. And even though Dan Auerbach is only barely in the new video, it seems to be about a cult of young women who serve as his acolytes. The clip follows these frequently-topless white-clad ladies — supermodel Lara Stone chief among them — as they indulge in culty activities like group exercises and prayer circles. In its own way, the video itself is as horny as anything that would’ve aired on BET Uncut back in the day, but it seems to aspire to deeper things. Rolling Stone family scion Theo Wenner directed the video, just as he did with “Fever.”