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Blitzen Trapper: Furr

Blitzen Trapper: Furr

Label:Sub Pop
Release Date:2008

By Michaelangelo Matos | Posted 12/17/2008

You want a shaggy dog story? Not only is Portland, Ore., roots-pop quintet Blitzen Trapper's 4th album full of songs that could be interpreted that way, the title track is quite directly one. Our haplessly good-humored narrator--or, if you prefer, lead singer and lyricist Eric Earley--wanders into the woods and hears his mother calling. "It turned out to be the howling of a dog/ Or a wolf, to be exact/ The sound sent shivers down my back/ But I was drawn into the pack, and before long/ They allowed me to join in and sing their song."

It's a tune Earley and his rangy band sing especially well on Furr. For one thing, they do it with real energy: the best parts of this album hurtle by at a jumpy pace that matches the playful, hyperactive words. While it was always apparent that these guys had studied their hippie-era country-rock LPs till the grooves were worn to holes, here they leap to a similar level of inspiration as their heroes. "Saturday Nite" evokes the Big Pink-era Band at its most nimble and quick ("Jump down, turn around, shake it on a Saturday night/ You don't have to pay the crowd/ But if you're gonna say it, say it out loud"--good advice), while "Sleepy Time in the Western World" cross-pollinates Garth Hudson-esque organ with crunchy Skunk Baxter guitar. "Not Your Lover" is a quiet, piano-led heartbreaker to which Neil Young and Willie Nelson would raise a morning's Bloody Mary in salute. The glasses should stay in the air for the album as a whole.

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