Akron, Ohio-based rock duo the Black Keys has signed with Fat Possum and will release its sophomore album, "ThickFreakness," on April 8. The group, which features guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and d

Akron, Ohio-based rock duo the Black Keys has signed with Fat Possum and will release its sophomore album, "ThickFreakness," on April 8. The group, which features guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney, was previously signed to Alive, which last year released its acclaimed debut set, "The Big Come Up."

Auerbach tells Billboard.com that while the Black Keys were in discussions with several major labels, "we just decided it wasn't going to be positive for us in any way. I think we got a great deal and I think we're going to be in a place where Fat Possum understands us more than any major ever would." Fat Possum is also home to blues artist T-Model Ford, with whom Auerbach has developed a special friendship over the past few years.

"ThickFreakness" is another helping of the Black Keys' decidedly retro blues/rock hybrid, augmented by covers of Junior Kimbrough's "Everywhere I Go" and Richard Berry's "Have Love Will Travel." Like its predecessor, the 13-track set was recorded solely by Auerbach and Carney in the basement of a house in a particularly gritty Akron neighborhood.

"We actually recorded it in 14 straight hours one day and did a couple of overdubs the next day," Auerbach says. "In this neighborhood, we can make noise until 8 a.m. It's the kind if place where the guy across the street seems to have constantly have a [police monitored] ankle bracelet on!"

Beyond the upcoming album, the Black Keys look to gain considerable exposure when they serve as the handpicked opener for Sleater-Kinney's February tour of North America. "We'll do the U.S. by ourselves shortly after that," Auerbach says. "We just got a European booking agent and will be there in July. We set up some big festival in Norway and we'll try to base the tour around that in late July."

Here are the Black Keys' upcoming tour dates:

Jan. 10: Toledo, Ohio (Frankie's)
Jan. 11: Detroit (Lager House)
Jan. 17: Columbus, Ohio (Little Brother's)
Jan. 18: Athens, Ohio (Union Bar and Grill)
Jan. 19: Buffalo, N.Y. (Showplace, with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion)