Blitzen Trapper

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Blitzen Trapper (2003), 6/10
Field Rexx (2004), 6.5/10
Wild Mountain Nation (2007), 6.5/10
Furr (2008), 5.5/10
Destroyer Of The Void (2010), 4/10
American Goldwing (2011), 4/10

Oregon's Blitzen Trapper debuted with a humble collection of rural vignettes, Blitzen Trapper (2003). However, Field Rexx (Lidkercow, 2004) enhanced their Wilco-style baroque country-pop (the upbeat Asleep For Days, the languid Summer Twin, the rocking lullabye Dreamers and Giants) with all sorts of stylistic detours. Lux & Royal Shopper swings between post-rock and retro-pop like a jam between the Kinks and Squirrel Bait (and with an instrumental coda designed by This Heat). The anthemic Leopard's Will To Live, the standout, is a clockwork gem, and Moving Minors Over County Lines is a musichall skit with a Beatles-ian refrain. Many of the songs are a mere minute long, although no less creative: Love I Exclaim sounds like the Residents turned country & western. The album is way less captivating when it sticks to formulaic country-rock, like in the sleepy six-minute Concrete Heaven and in the sweet 40 Stripes. In the hands of the Holy Modal Rounders a bluegrass ditty like Dirty Pearls would have become a deranged dance but in the hands of Blitzen Trapper it remains facile entertainment.

Wild Mountain Nation (Lidkercow Ltd, 2007) made the stylistic detours the whole point of the music. Thus the center of mass was not to be found in the gentle pastoral elegy of Summer Town or in the campfire singalong Country Caravan, but in the in the gritty garage-y Devil's A-Go-Go, in the thundering, hard-rocking, quasi-Hendrix-ian Miss Spiritual Tramp (the riff is reminiscent of Foxy Lady), in the jovial, wordless merry-go-round of Woof & Warp of the Quiet Giant's Hem, in the digital techno dance of Sci-Fi Kid (sort of an update of the Byrds' Spaceman), and in the psychedelic Hot Tip/Tough Cub. That's not to say that the band can't craft the catchy Wild Mountain Nation and the breezy, quasi Hollies-esque Futures & Folly.

Having removed most signs of musical genius, Furr (Subpop, 2008) quietly relaxed in the routine of folk-rock and country-rock of the 1970s with a parade of faceless ballads (Not Your Lover, Lady on the Water, War on Machines, Stolen Shoes & a Rifle) rescued by the one moment of power-pop verve, Sleepytime in the Western World, and by a less trivial ballad, Black River Killer.

Destroyer Of The Void (2010) further refined their commercial muzak, now set firmly in the tradition of Electric Light Orchestra and mid-career Fleetwood Mac (Below The Hurricane, Destroyer of the Void).

A couple of rockers (notably Street Fighting Sun) surfaced on American Goldwing (2011), and the tender Astronaut let some emotion percolate through the rigid mechanism, but their forte remained the diligent imitation of a specific era, the 1970s.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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