Recordings: Black Rebel – Motorcycle Club

    Pay attention, rock twats: If Bob Dylan is one of your influences, have the decency to actually rework some of the stuff he did. At least, don’t sink to the depths of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club on “Complicated Situation,” which sounds like a distillation of the first few Dylan records into one boring summary of a infatile folkie’s dreary wet dream.

    But what should we expect from a stylish San Francisco trio that basically replayed ’80s mysterio-rock with better amplifiers, and has now decided to steal rootsy standards from their own continent? Howl isn’t awful — about three tracks will get you nodding without guilt — but even those are trifles compared to the originals they essentially copy. For their country/blues album, BRMC call on Mississippi via pasty Led Zeppelin and London via the posturing Black Crowes — all the wrong places. The album’s title track, supposedly a nod to Allen Ginsberg’s landmark 1954 poem, is about as revolutionary as a jar of mayonnaise: not quite “starving hysterical naked,” though it will get you humming along. So will “Promise,” a nod to Simon & Garfunkel that belongs on a Coldplay record. But the so-fake voice-and-guitar country ballads (there are three) that cheaply compress Johnny Cash like “Complicated Situation” does Dylan are painfully indicative: BRMC don’t seem to realize that any good in these songs doesn’t come from them.

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