Blitzen Trapper / VII - 4075595
I am indistinguishable from my memories, inseparable from this place I’ve always lived. Songs made of rhymes and these rhymes like maps to the bizarre hinterlands of what we know and love. This is Blitzen Trapper’s seventh record for the books, another bizarre string of tales and touchstones, more beats and banjos by far than anything to date, since, well we figured a straight line between two points is preferable. At this point the road is home and home is home, which is to say there is no home left for me because at a certain point you can never go home as the old adage seems to more than imply.
The pac-northwest is a place of synthesis, a backwater for slag and leftovers, culturally speaking, and VII like this, like all my records it’s a synthesis of a whole mess of things. Our music, lovingly called ‘Rocky Mountain Whoop-ass’, a term itself coined by close associates to refer to what we play though our particular mountains are a more volcanic spur of the Rockies and so more solitary, brings together the strut, the twist, the headbang and the hillbilly tap, though in some cases it merely makes people want to drink or procreate. I feel confident this genre will, if not become de facto will perform as an at least marginally amusing handle for music writers with any interest.
Memories of Oregon:
The JD drinking, robotripping, dope smoking experimentation of youth. And even further back the country gospel tabernacle meetings out in Brooks, falling asleep as a child on hard wood benches while the country band plays Just A Closer Walk With Thee, the prayers of the saints rising for all us wandering youth.
Each of these songs starts from a small place, like a headwaters, a remembrance and then widens into a song. For instance, that old wreck of a shack buried in evergreen and murky darkness at the bend in the road up on Jackson Hill where we used to drink and never failed to give me a chill driving by in the old Impala for it’s implacable mystery, where Feel the Chill takes place.
Drive on Up, it seems you’re always driving on up to something, into the mountains to see a girlfriend above the reservoir where she lives in a single wide with her mom and a cougar stalks us at fifty yards through the brush, she says to bang sticks but never look it in the eye.
A hundred degree day out at the John Day, walking through the high desert in sneakers coming on a cow skull and then the rest of its bleached bones spread for near on a mile and realizing the thirst of the creatures in these hills. And I’m no different. And you have Thirsty Man, where love like rain falls in the wasteland and slips through the fingers for love is a thing that cannot be held but only felt and released.
And of course there are those songs I keep writing over and over again, Ever Loved Once with all its regrets and tragic lost love, Don’t be a Stranger its hopeful cousin but they all still point to the same worn out place in the heart of old E. Earley. And hey, we all have that place, that worn spot on the heart like the chew canister circle on the back pocket of blue jeans, or that one shred in the green felt of the table where you ground the stick in too hard for drinking. That one love that got away or that one you watched leave driving slow in moonlight over the gravel at night cause the things of the earth will leave you aching and/or empty as a fifth at sunrise.
May these songs minister in ways mysterious and eternal, or at least maybe make you shake a hip.
- E. Earley
Released: September 23, 2013
Blitzen Trapper / American Goldwing - SP949
American Goldwing is Sub Pop’s third full-length release with Portland’s Blitzen Trapper and the band’s sixth full-length overall. Over the course of their career they’ve earned rave reviews (from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, SPIN, and a whole lot more), played on television, appeared at festivals all around the world, done a staggering amount of touring, and sold a whole bunch of records. All of which is distinctly less interesting that what Blitzen Trapper singer/songwriter/guitarist Eric Earley has to say about the band’s new record, American Goldwing…
It’s us letting our loves, our early influences hang out for all to see. Entering into the sounds we grew up with, the hard guitar rock and country picking of our younger years mixes with glimmers of our usual space-aging technology and pawn shop Casio aplomb. Heavy guitar riffs and blasting drum fills live side-by-side with plucking banjos and wailing harmonicas, and muddy slide guitars that make you want to shotgun a beer in the shower while listening to the Stones or Joe Walsh. It’s also our first foray into direct, outside influence in the creation of a record. It’s me letting go in a certain way. I let Tchad Blake come in to mix this album, and my good friend Gregg Williams co-produced all these tracks.
When I sing, in the title track, “I know / I know / I’ll be staying if the wind don’t blow,” I’m seeking to invoke the unseen, the spirit that beckons you to saddle up that old 1980 Honda Goldwing, or your uncle’s beat up Ford Bronco, or that Jeep you somehow, and only barely, keep running and leave this lonely town behind, ‘cause that wind’s always blowing. I’m calling you to ride, to take those curves at speed and head for someplace better where love is true, whether that be into the depths of the galaxy or just to the next truck stop where the neon shines, and where the “company of strangers / and the close and the present dangers” are all that really matters."
Two things! If you’re among the first 500 people to pre-order American Goldwing, you’ll receive a free, high quality, heavy-duty Blitzen Trapper keychain to use with the keys of your personal choosing. Secondly: if you’re among the first three hundred people to pre-order the vinyl, your copy will be on white vinyl!
Released: September 13, 2011
Blitzen Trapper / Destroyer of the Void - SP825
Blitzen Trapper is based in Portland, OR. There are six of them in the band and they’ve been together since 2000. Over the course of their four full-length albums to date, including their revelatory 2008 Sub Pop release Furr, front man Eric Earley’s considerable poetic talents and his band’s hard-earned chops have gained them a growing international audience. The band’s continuing exploration of American music that spans from the ‘60s folk movement to the country sounds of the ’70s, to the pop balladry and prog rock of the ’80s has earned it notice ranging from Rolling Stone magazine to late-night network television to Yo Gabba Gabba, among a great many others. In January 2009 and again in January 2010, Earley and a few of his bandmates entered the attic studio of lauded Portland musician and studio engineer Mike Coykendall (Bright Eyes, M Ward, She & Him) to work on what would become Destroyer of the Void. And the resulting new album takes Blitzen Trapper further than ever before, building on the band’s seamless marriage of the familiar and the fantastic to, literally, create an otherworldly experience.
Released: June 8, 2010
Blitzen Trapper / Furr - SP755
Furr is the fourth record by Portland sextet Blitzen Trapper and the follow-up to last year’s highly acclaimed Wild Mountain Nation. Written in the gaps of the group’s frenetic touring schedule and recorded mostly in a hoary old telegraph building close by the Willamette River, the new record refines and expands on the far-ranging yet distinctive songcraft that lies at the heart of Blitzen Trapper’s unique appeal.
Like its predecessor, Furr was made largely in the group’s studio at Sally Mack’s School of Dance, which is housed in the aforementioned telegraph building near downtown Portland. This is a small T-shaped room with high ceilings, a couch, a hot-plate, and a mixing console. During reprieves from tour, songwriter and producer Eric Earley lived furtively in the studio, crashing on the couch, but rising with the sun or staying up into the nether hours when the other bands in the building quit and went home. It was during these quiet times that the new songs took shape, with rhythm sections printed hot to four-track and then layered and embellished and deconstructed or sometimes just left the way they were.
One key to this new material was an ancient, warped piano that appeared in the hallway one day at Sally Mack’s School of Dance and which was subsequently muscled into the group’s studio. Though out of tune and missing teeth, this piano became the warhorse upon which Earley wrote and recorded much of Furr. The beast has gone away to the landfill now, but you can still hear the clacking and clattering of its rickety skeleton in songs like “Not Your Lover” and “Echo.”
Blitzen Trapper is a group of native Northwesterners, most of whom grew up in Salem, Oregon. They have lived and played together in Portland since 2000. Critics and fans have compared their music to just about everything; there have been calls to coin a new genre. After self-releasing Wild Mountain Nation in June of 2007, the group ventured beyond the West Coast for the first time to tour extensively in Europe and North America. Furr is their first Sub Pop release.
Released: September 23, 2008
Blitzen Trapper / Wild Mountain Nation - 4075598
From outerspace to down at the farm, campfire singalong to dystopic atonal deconstruction, Wild Mountain Nation presents a raucous and varied constellation of favorite souvenirs from the Trapper’s musical adventures. Brought forth in a spasm of creative mania, Nation is rough-hewn but lush, crackling (sometimes audibly) with a weird and lucid energy. The album was recorded and arranged by the band themselves, using a dizzying variety of techniques and media, including a secret process learned from friendly extraterrestrials. As always, though, the group’s trusty four-track was used to capture the “soul”, “essence”, or “kernel” of each song, which was then buried in a rich humus of articulation, embellishment, and attenuation, so that after the summer a nutritious, colorful variety of fresh music was drooping from the vine (so to speak). A rich harvest: dusty bones, sunrise, Philip K Dick, Guernica, barley wine, sycamore or doug fir, snowflake, Sally Mack’s School of Dance, Scooby-Doo, bigfoot.
Released: July 9, 2007
Blitzen Trapper / Field Rexx - RS-LKCD002
A classic DIY release, Field Rexx was made in the sweltering summer of 2004 with no budget amidst the hiss of flies and tape. “Recorded,” according to the liner notes, “at the carny shack, fer shook n timsel on Duke’s shoot-o-matic for tisks & soda & that ol’
broke 4-track what 3-fingrd mike poured old English on and lit on fire,” Rexx’s warped eclectic pop Americana proves that great songs and performances can transcend squalor and bad album art. Features archival material of the original Trapper, James Earley, performing snippets of traditional hillbilly tunes.
Released: July 9, 2007