The first few seconds of Benjamin Booker’s self-titled debut album sound like old-school blues guitar. “Violent Shiver” opens with bright, jagged strumming, slides down the neck, powerful if inelegant technique. You can hear Muddy Waters and B.B. King and Chuck Berry in it, and assume that this will more or less replicate those classic forebears or rip on vogue blues rockers like the Black Keys.
But then the song takes off like a rocket, with Booker shredding his voice to bits as if Kurt Cobain had a side project with the rhythm section of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The 25-year-old Booker may play music rooted in the blues, but he’s no imitator. He’s created something more modern, urban and streamlined — a blues-meets-punk sound that’s a welcome update to a field tired of shoddy rewrites.