Friday, January 30, 2009

4. Blitzen Trapper - Furr

This is by far my favorite Bob Dylan song of the year... wait. What's that you say? This isn't a Dylan song? I'm not buying it. So what if it is technically by southern rock revivalists Blitzen Trapper. From the nasal midwestern drone of lead singer Eric Earley and the harmonica in place of a guitar solo to the hootenanny-esque bass drum driven rhythm, this track would fit perfectly alongside "Lay Lady Lay" on Nasheville Skyline. At this point I should note that if this song's status as the #4 track of the year didn't already suggest this strongly enough... all this Dylan aping is much to its credit.

Throughout their short, yet relatively prolific career, Blitzen Trapper has served as a town crier for the greatness of 70s rock and pop music. On their prior effort, Wild Mountain Nation the band borrowed more from harder acts than Dylan with distinct hints of AC/DC, Thin Lizzy (LOTS of Thin Lizzy), and the Allman Brothers. Because of this, I've read many critics referring to this LP, also entitled Furr, as a radical departure from their previous efforts but I can't say that I agree with that. Furr feels like less of a radical departure and more a natural progression. While Wild Mountain Nation was a stock debut effort (even though they had self-released others prior to this); more concerned with throwing the knock-out punch than bobbing and weaving. This is a good thing, it's like watching a star closer like Billy Wagner take the mound... here's my fastball asshole, hit it if you can see it. But we all know that baseball isn't about power vs. power. You've gotta balance this out with finesse... the thing that made Greg Maddux's starts so beautiful was the artfulness and muted precision with which he carved up opposing lineups. That's what we get on Furr, on this album (and this track reflects this) Blitzen Trapper have learned to pitch, not just throw.

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