BLITZEN TRAPPER: Furr [Sub Pop]

Along with ruining the harmonica for every modern-day rocker, Bob Dylan’s influence on other people’s music often comes across as subtle as a sledgehammer. The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser seems stuck in a never-ending audition for I’m Still Not There, and Blitzen Trapper singer/guitarist Eric Earley does the pinched-nose, protracted-vowel routine as well as anyone not named Cate Blanchett. Witness the title track from the Portland, Ore., band’s fourth full-length, which hums along on a six-string’s plaintive strum, a tambourine’s gentle jangle and, true to form, a harmonica’s whistling wheeze. It’s not the only quality song on Furr to suffer from such a comparison—and not only to Dylan, either. “Black River Killer” is a fantastically detailed, first-person murder ballad that takes a few too many cues from Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” while two other tracks reanimate the Allman Brothers’ Southern-rockin’ guitar solos. Enjoying Furr, then, depends entirely on your ability (or willingness) to ignore the heavy footprints of familiar musicians. Try to appreciate the highly infectious boogie-woogie of “Saturday Nite” without hearing Jerry Garcia or the hellfire screeching of “Love U” without having to block out Jet. Do that, and the craftsmanship on Furr has a good shot at overshadowing its undeniable derivation. [www.subpop.com]

—Noah Bonaparte Pais

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