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WEDNESDAY

There is a well-established naming convention among Akron, Ohio, rock bands: Their ostensibly odd monikers must thinly veil a Rust Belt normality. Among the many musical outfits that have called the place home, the most famous is undoubtedly Devo. And though that band may have been titled to comment on cultural entropy, its driving force, Mark Mothersbaugh, was sure quick to take the flower pot off his head so he could make some real dough writing Rugrats soundtracks. The Black Keys are no different, taking their handle from a schizophrenic artist friend who used that term for all things “shady and devious”—not an entirely apt description of a revivalist duo which prefers the pungent, hickory smoke of the Southern blues style to the industrial plumes of punk for which their hometown is known. Rubber Factory, the band’s latest—and finest—record, starts off with “When the Lights Go Out,” a slow number that manages to be both mellow and menacing. From there, it doesn’t take too long for the Keys to get rolling: By the second track, “10 A.M. Automatic,” they are already tearing into a powerful juke-joint jumper. But the album’s best tune is the cover of “Grown So Ugly,” which, electric as it is, is still raw and sparse enough to (at the risk of committing blues-scholar heresy) stand well alongside the original, Robert Pete Williams’ self-loathing classic. Which says something about the band: Though the Keys’ sound is dirty enough to warrant a “Parental Advisory” sticker—and punk enough that they can hang with Akron’s finest—the duo’s obvious respect for tradition reveals that they’re just a couple of nice Midwestern boys who probably had some drunken epiphany one night while watching Ralph Macchio do his thing in Crossroads. The band plays with the Cuts Wednesday, Oct. 6, at 8:30 p.m. at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $15. (202) 393-0930. (David Dunlap Jr.)