March 1, 2009

A Twist of Folk: Blitzen Trapper

(Reprinted from

Simply put, Blitzen Trapper is the new voice of Folk. Musically, they are comparable to a peaceful drive through the barren Texas landscape – egads! No, not Texas, not after watching those “Chainsaw Massacre” movies. Okay, it’s like driving through a sparsely populated – but decidedly uncreepy terrain – windows down, the wind blowing through the bandana you would inevitably be wearing. There’s a strong feeling of freedom and earthiness to their music. They cover genres from Country, Hard Rock, and even Noise Rock, all while maintaining their signature Folk styling.

Blitzen Trapper’s 2008 album, Furr, gives you a taste of this refreshing versatility. The poignant “Black River Killer” is a grim, rhythmic track, similar in sound and mood to Blonde on Blonde-era Bob Dylan. They then switch to the twang-intensive, Country ditty, “Stolen Shoes & A Rifle.” Nevertheless, before you can say “seedy, small-town bar band,” they change it up in “Saturday Nite,” sounding eerily like the glam-Pop band, Scissor Sisters. And just when you think you might have them figured out, give the older song, “Devil A-Go-Go,” a listen. Prior to this, I had never even heard of Experimental Folk – no longer just a politically correct term for swingers and tokers.

As well as shirking the idea of genre loyalty, they also shun the trends of modern music. In a time of multitasking, two- and three-member bands, the idea of a six-member ensemble seems excessive. Three guitarists, three vocalists, a bassist, a drummer, and a keyboardist … yet somehow, they end up sounding as simple and rustic as a group of friends around a campfire.

Such deviations from popular music made it difficult for the band to get signed to a label, initially. However, rather than waiting around to be discovered, the band self-released their first three albums under their label, Lidkercow Ltd. In 2007, they were signed to a label (Sub Pop) and released Furr the following year. This newest release has garnered critical acclaim (including a feature in Rolling Stone) and sparked a nationwide tour. You can catch them as they pass through Denver with fellow Folkie, Alela Diane, on March 12th at the Hi-Dive.

If You Like: Bob Dylan, The Raconteurs, Jenny Lewis

Style: Folk, Rock, Indie

Location: Portland, Oregon

Band Members: Eric Earley (guitar/vocals), Erik Menteer (guitar/keyboard), Brian Adrian Koch (drums/vocals), Michael VanPelt, (bass), Drew Laughery (keyboards), and Marty Marquis (guitar, keyboards, vocals)

Blitzen Trapper (2003), Field Rexx (2004), Wild Mountain Nation (2007), Furr (2008)

LIVE: March 12th / Hi-Dive

No comments: