(this piece was published by Planet Jackson Hole)
The experimental, Americana indie-rock foundation of Blitzen Trapper is arguably some of the most intriguing music of the last several years. The writing is personal. The live show extremely tight and moody. And the subtle use of electronic textures over folk tendencies points to only one legit comparison, Wilco.
When Blitzen Trapper played the Pink Garter Theatre in 2012, they had just released American Goldwing, an album that took a classic direction towards other west coasters like The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Grateful Dead, but also The Allman Brothers and Cat Stevens. It seemed conservative, even traditional, when compared to earlier albums like Furr (which ranked #13 on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of the 2008), and Destroyer of the Void (2010), which was full of sci-fi synths, Beatles harmonies, and country-rock twang.
But it seems the band’s blitzkrieg of acoustic and electric rock escapades through a decade-long career is coming full circle. Over the last year, they’ve managed to cover some of the best singer-songwriters in the game, and showing a reconnection to Americana in the process. Choice picks were Ryan Adams’s “To Be Young,” Bob Dylan’s “Unbelievable” and “I Don’t Believe You,” and a song-for-song cover of Neil Young’s most famous album, 1972’s Harvest, which Blitzen Trapper released on vinyl as a live recording on Record Store Day, April 18. The band is preparing to release its follow-up to 2013’s VII in September.
“It’s a little more of a live, aggressive record. It’s probably the truest-sounding to our live show,” said frontman Eric Earley.
If you’re ready for heavy-riffing, fuzzed-out slide guitars with blasting drum fills side-by-side with a plucking banjo, strummed acoustic guitar, and soaring harmonies, there’s a little bit of Trapper for everyone. For a musical contrast, don’t miss the storytelling songs and jam grass prowess of local sextet One Ton Pig.
Blitzen Trapper with One Ton Pig, 6 p.m. Thursday at Music on Main in Victor City Park. Free, all-ages.