Sonic Reducer

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It’s a shame this record comes out just after the State Fair leaves town. It would be the perfect midway soundtrack. Furr is a little intimidating at first, what with its bright lights, piles of sounds and entirely too many options. But soon enough, the album finds a psychedelic-folk game it likes and wins the teddy bear. Blitzen Trapper‘s piano, Rhodes organ, driving guitar and multilayered, chirpy vocals are juiced up and rarin’ to go. Bob Dylan is clearly in the band’s collective consciousness, but Blitzen Trapper is more succinct and electronically inclined than its forefather. Partially sunbaked but also poignant at times, Furr seeks uncharted territory without getting lost along the way. (SM)

New Kids On The Block The Block (Interscope)

The rumors are true. After taking a 15-year hiatus, New Kids On The Block is back—older, wiser and, thankfully, with a more mature sound. And the Boston boys are once again relying on sex appeal. Filled with soft, jazzy tunes, The Block still keeps it playful and young. Featuring more current artists like the Pussycat Dolls and Akon, and inevitable throwbacks like New Edition, gives the album more substance and keeps the song styles moving. It wouldn’t be NKOTB without cheese—as in the song “Dirty Dancing” (referring to Swayze)—but this boy band has come back all grown-up. (TA)

Calexico Carried To Dust (Quarterstick)

We’re always bound for adventure when saddling onto a Calexico album. Carried to Dust doesn’t veer too far from the trail Calexico has been traveling for years now—modern material dusted in old traditions of the American Southwest and Mexican folk—but it’s hot enough to quicken your pulse. The ride is smoothed out under the breath of frontman Joey Burns, who possesses a sharp sense of storytelling that paints whole vistas within his lyrics. This is a drifter’s album, carrying you far and wide through Western landscapes and diverse arrangements. (JH)

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