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French Style Furs find the punk in a monk's poetry

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French Style Furs' debut album, 'Is Exotic Bait' (out July 8), takes its lyrics from a monk's poetry

The L.A.-via-Long Beach rock band Cold War Kids always tried to find poetry in their noisy, sad blues-punk. For four albums, they made harrowing little vignettes of doomed relationships spiked with soul-man vocal yelps and lonely reverb.

Now two of that band's members are cutting right to the chase. As French Style Furs, Nathan Willett and Matt Maust made a punk record out of someone else's poetry. 

Their debut album, "Is Exotic Bait" (out July 8 on Frenchkiss), takes its lyrics from poetry of a 20th century monk, Thomas Merton. Fans familiar with Willett's literary callbacks in Cold War Kids know to expect this kind of thing, but here it's far from didactic or pretentious.

That's because the record is a bracing tonic of early '80s post-punk that radically ups the tempos and the urgency from their main outfit (perhaps the Furs' third member, We Barbarians' Nathan Warkentin, helped spur the charge). "(World in My) Bloodstream"  lurches with a fuzz-bombed bass and Willett's rapid-fire patter -- and it sounds as if he's found a whole new voice in someone else's words.

The band holds down the free Monday residency at the Satellite for the rest of the month. All the fans who thrilled to Cold War Kids' sweaty, desperate sounds in the mid-2000s will likely get the same out of these sets. 

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