B&E: Black Keys & Mindi Abair

Breaking & Entering: A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: The Black Keys and Mindi Abair.

Profiling acts breaking at radio and/or retail and entering Billboard's charts.

THE (BLACK) KEYS TO SUCCESS: Akron, Ohio-based duo the Black Keys is back with an offering of densely guitar-laden blues/rock on its third effort, "Rubber Factory" (Fat Possum). The set is at times a vintage journey (a cover of the Kinks' "Act Nice and Gentle"), at others a present day twist on classic rock and blues, and throughout a showcase of singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach's heartfelt growls and Patrick Carney's rough and tumble drum work.

This time out the childhood friends appear on Billboard's Top Heatseekers list -- bowing at No. 5 last week. "Rubber Factory" also debuted at No. 11 on the Top Independent and No. 143 on The Billboard 200.

The group's 2002 Alive Records indie rock debut, "The Big Come Up," earned the Black Keys touring gigs with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Sleater-Kinney, and a deal with Fat Possum for their sophomore release, "Thickfreakness." That set spent some time on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart in 2003.

What touring and the onslaught of critical acclaim that follows each album hasn't earned the duo is a decent recording space. While "Thickfreakness" was recorded over 14-hour period in an Ohio basement, the group's latest was a four-month exercise with secondhand instruments in an abandoned tire factory, resulting in its perfectly raw feel.

The Black Keys are on a North American small club tour and head to Europe at the end of October through November.

Artist: theblackkeys.com
Label: fatpossum.com

MindiAS MINDI IS: Pop/jazz artist Mindi Abair's sophomore GRP Records album "Come As You Are" lands the saxophonist her first spot on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart, where it opens at No. 37.

Released Sept. 14, the set also debuted at No. 5 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz list to give her a second career appearance on the chart. Abair's GRP debut, "It Just Happens That Way," entered at No. 3 in its first week in 2003 and earned the artist an opening spot on pop/classical act Josh Groban's tour.

Abair recorded the 11-track set in the Hollywood bungalow of longtime co-composer and producer Matthew Hagar. A hidden track, "26 Hemenway," is named after her address at the Berklee College of Music, where she earned a degree in woodwind performance before heading to Los Angeles and scoring session work with artists like Mandy Moore, the Gap Band, Adam Sandler and Duran Duran, as well as the Backstreet Boys, who she joined for their 2000 Millennium world tour.

Though the album is mostly instrumental, Abair trades in her saxophone for breathy vocals on tracks like "Every Time," "I Can Remember" and "You'll Never Know."

Abair is playing dates nationally through November, when she will join trumpet player Rick Braun as a supporting player for jazz guitarist Peter White's A Peter White Christmas tour until the end of December.

Artist: mindiabair.com
Label: grp.com