Now Hear “Furr (Live at KCRW)” + “War Is Placebo,” then read more about their upcoming tour performing Furr in its entirety.
On September 14th, Sub Pop will release the newly expanded and 10th-anniversary edition of Blitzen Trapper’s Furr, the group’s classic fourth album.
In 2008, the Portland, Oregon-based experimental country and folk rock band released Furr its breakthrough and label debut for Sub Pop. The album was met with universal acclaim, earning praise from the likes of The Guardian, Pitchfork, Paste, AV Club, and Rolling Stone, who in it’s 4 star review called it “an engaging album full of rootsy beauty.” The album would go on to earn the no. 13 spot on Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Albums of 2008,” later that year.
For the newly expanded deluxe edition of Furr, Blitzen Trapper have compiled two LPs worth of material: The original album and twelve rare and previously unreleased tunes. All of these songs were from the same recordings that became Furr, with the exception of the “Live at KCRW “ tracks, which were recorded during the Furr tour.
After the success of the album, unreleased songs “War is Placebo,” “Booksmart Baby,” and “Maybe Baby” appeared as limited edition singles for Record Store Day in 2009 and 2011 and now appear here. The reissue also features a new liner note from Eric Earley reflecting on the album and what it means now, as well as a track by track description of the bonus songs, and a Q&A with the stage & screen actor, and Blitzen Trapper fan, Rainn Wilson (of The Office and Six Feet Under fame).
Furr (Deluxe Edition) is now available for preorder through Sub Pop right here. LP preorders through megamart.subpop.com and select independent retailers will receive the limited Loser edition on Clear vinyl with gold swirl(while supplies last). The album features updated cover art, and will be available in the following formats:
- Cassette (Furr only)
Furr: Deluxe Edition
1. Sleepytime in the Western World
2. Gold for Bread
4. God & Suicide
5. Fire & Fast Bullets
6. Saturday Nite
7. Black River Killer
8. Not Your Lover
9. Love U
10. War on Machines
11. Stolen Shoes & a Rifle
12. Echo/Always On/Easy Con
13. Lady on the Water
14. War Is Placebo **
15. Simple Tree *
16. Booksmart Baby **
17. Heroes of Doubt *
18. Maybe Baby ^
19. Ballad of Bird Love *
20. Hard Heart *
21. Other People’s Money *
22. On My Way to the Bay *
23. Rent-a-Cop *
24. God & Suicide (Live at KCRW)
25. Furr (Live at KCRW)
* = Previously unreleased
** = 2009 Record Store Day single
^ = 2011 Record Store Day single A-side
Blitzen Trapper Tour Dates + Ticket Links
Blitzen Trapper will support the release of Furr (Deluxe Edition) with a massive fall North American tour, beginning September 13th-15th at Victoria’s Rifflandia Festival and ending November 17th-18th with a two-night stand at Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge. These fall shows will find the band playing Furr in its entirety, followed by a set of fan favorites from throughout the band’s discography. Tickets for the fall shows are on sale Friday, June 22nd at 10am (local time).
Preceding the Furr anniversary dates is the band’s summer tour schedule, which currently runs June 22nd-July 21st, and includes two PNW dates with Sub Pop labelmate Father John Misty (July 20th-21st).
Summer Tour Dates
Jun. 22 - Louisville, CO - Louisville Street Faire
Jun. 23 - Livingston, MT - Pine Creek Lodge
Jul. 14 - Seattle, WA - Ballard Seafood Fest
Jul. 15 - Spokane, WA - The Bartlett
Jul. 17 - Missoula, MT - Top Hat Lounge
Jul. 18 - Boise, ID - Neurolux
Jul. 20 - Jacksonville, OR - Britt Pavillion*
Jul. 21 - Troutdale, OR - Edgefield Amphitheatre*
Furr Fall 2018 Tour Dates
Sep. 13 - 15 - Victoria, BC - Rifflandia Festival
Sep. 15 - Vancouver, BC - The Commodore
Sep. 16 - Nelson, BC - Spiritbar at the Hume Hotel
Sep. 17 - Calgary, AB - Festival Hall
Sep. 18 - Edmonton, AB - Starlite Room
Sep. 19 - Saskatoon, SK - Amigos
Sep. 20 - Toronto, ON - RBC Echo Beach**
Sep. 21 - Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe
Sep. 22 - Indianapolis, IN - Holler On The Hill at Garfield Park
Sep. 24 - 25 - Chicago, IL - Schubas
Sep. 27 - Hamilton, ON - Mills Hardware
Sep. 28 - Ottawa, ON - The 27 Club
Sep. 29 - Montreal, QC - Le Ministère
Oct. 01 - Allston, MA - Great Scott
Oct. 02 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
Oct. 04 - Philadelphia, PA - The Foundry at The Fillmore
Oct. 05 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
Oct. 06 - Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle
Oct. 07 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
Oct. 08 - Nashville, TN - The Basement East
Oct. 10 - St. Louis, MO - Blueberry Hill Duck Room
Oct. 11 - Kansas City, MO - Record Bar
Oct. 12 - Lincoln, NE - The Royal Grove
Oct. 13 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre
Nov. 08 - Chico, CA- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
Nov. 09 - Reno, NV - Offbeat Music Festival
Nov. 10 - Novato, CA - Hopmonk Tavern
Nov. 11 - Sebastopol, CA - Hopmonk Tavern
Nov. 12 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern
Nov. 13 - Los Angeles, CA - Lodge Room
Nov. 14 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
Nov. 16 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile
Nov. 17 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
*w/ Father John Misty
** w/ Shaky Graves, The Sheepdogs
[Photo Credit: Tyler Kohlhoff]
More on Blitzen Trapper’s Furr:
It was on September 23, 2008 that Blitzen Trapper, after putting out three albums on its own label, released its fourth full-length album, Furr, via Sub Pop. At that time, it was a record that captured exactly where the band’s frontman, Eric Earley, found himself, both literally and metaphorically, geographically and existentially. Not that the Portland-based musician actually remembers much about the creation of the record’s 13 intriguing, spellbinding songs. Or, more specifically, what its songs actually mean, either now or then. Instead, Furr, stands as a kind of tribute and elegy to the city that inspired it, but that, a decade later, no longer exists.
“What I was trying to do with those recordings,” explains Earley, “was capture this kind of atmosphere that I was feeling and which pervaded the city at that time. I think I was attempting to capture what Portland was at the time and what it felt like to me. That city is gone now. Old Portland, we call it, but Old Portland has disappeared. But this record gives me the feeling of those times and this city— when it was poor and dumpy and really drug-addled. And it also captures the magic of the outlying rural areas that has slowly changed as well.”
That magic can be heard in each of these songs, and while the city may have vanished from sight – replaced by a newer, richer, shinier and bigger version of itself – its elegance and fractured beauty is preserved within the bones of this record. These songs exist as vivid snapshots of that time, ones that recall the city as it was. At the same time – and while Earley insists he was only trying to capture what Portland was at the time – there’s a mythology within the lyrics and the music, an imagined, semi-fictional vision of Portland and the Pacific Northwest, a kind of parallel universe to the one that actually exists.
“Back then, the city was this really weird place,” says Earley. “It was really bizarre. Weird stuff would happen. And it was much poorer and much smaller. It wasn’t as structured and rich as it is now. It was a totally different place. That’s why it’s funny when people talk about Portland – I’m like well, if you didn’t live here back then you’ll never experience what that was like but if you listen to this record you’ll get a little taste of it. So in that sense, it feels very real and non-mythical to me.”
That said, that doesn’t mean these songs are all based in reality. There are glimpses of God – and of American Christianity – throughout them, not least in the mournful folk narrative of “Black River Killer” and “God & Suicide.” The former is a made-up tale about an anonymous murderer on a killing spree which Earley cites as being about “the mindless violence that Americans consume every single day – in film and books and everything – and what does it mean for us to consume that content and make it a part of us?” The latter is a shimmering, more upbeat track that’s an attempt to commit to tape an ineffable feeling that Earley felt within him but which, after all these years, he’s still unable to pinpoint exactly.
“I can’t tell you what that song’s about,” he says. “I know what it feels like, but I don’t know what it actually literally means. But the words and the music gave me this feeling as I was writing it that made sense at the time. I feel like there’s a feeling of longing that accompanies this record somehow, and there’s this weird longing to be set free. I feel that’s what kind of pervades this record – a melancholic longing for something that we can’t obtain. In “God & Suicide” it’s almost like—and it’s me obviously—but it’s almost like whoever is saying those words is saying to himself ‘Well I’ve got two choices. Either I kill myself or I somehow make my peace with whatever God is.”
Not all the songs have such existential explanations. The soft acoustic jangle of the title track is full of wistful longing, while the plaintive, poignant piano of “Not Your Lover” is a forlorn love – or loss of love – song full of tender sadness. That’s one of a few songs that wouldn’t actually exist had the band—completed at the time by Brian Adrian Koch (drums, vocals), Michael Van Pelt (bass), Erik Menteer (guitar, Moog), Drew Laughery (keyboards) and Marty Marquis (guitar, vocals, melodica)—not found an old warped piano in the hallway of Sally Mack’s School Of Dance, the Portland building which housed the band’s studio. Needless to say, the discovery definitely helped shape the direction of the record.
“That song,” says Earley, “wouldn’t exist, I don’t think, without that piano. I remember sitting at that thing when I first pulled it in and tinkering with it and just sort of writing that one right away. So it probably would have been a slightly different record. A lot of the songs I wrote on piano and I wouldn’t have because I didn’t have one.”
That’s also partly because Earley admits he wasn’t trying to write an album at that time, but write songs to perfect the recording technique he’d been honing when making the band’s previous full-length, 2007’s Wild Mountain Nation. As such, around three albums’ worth of material was recorded during the sessions for Furr, and it’s a selection of those that comprise the bonus material for this anniversary edition of the record. From the dulcet, chugging tones of “War Is Placebo” to the carefree, summer whimsy of “Ballad Of Bird Love”—a song driven by that same piano—and the melancholy folk tale waltz of “On My Way To The Bay”, the ten outtakes included here offer even further insight into Earley’s creative mindset and the feeling—whatever it is, exactly—that sits at the center of these songs. Written largely between the hours of 11pm and the morning—something that was possible because, in between tours, Earley was living in the studio building—Furr is a very nocturnal album, full of the wonder and the mystery of the night.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the fact Earley wasn’t trying to make a record per se, Furr—is an impressively cohesive album, and its counterpart bonus tracks are as well. Much of that is down to Earley’s fastidious recording techniques, using old analogue equipment to create a sound that was inherently nostalgic but also, at the time, anyway, entirely unusual.
“At the time,” he says, “I was going for a very specific sound. And it’s funny, because it’s a sound that you hear so much nowadays—bands have this recording aesthetic that’s very, very lo-fi and almost exactly what I was doing back then, but I was doing it with machinery that was meant to do that as opposed to bands now, who are doing it with modern digital plug-ins. At the time, I was just making what I’d like to hear and I didn’t know if anyone else will like it. It sounds old and distorted—the sound I’d hear in my head when riding my bike around town at 2 in the morning.”
Those days (and nights) may have faded into the past, but they’re very much present within the fabric of Furr. A decade on, they sound just as magical and mystical.
Not, of course, that the band is just relying on the past glory of this record. Far from it. A decade on from the release of Furr, has released five more critically acclaimed and achingly beautiful records. The band hasn’t loosened its ambitions, either. In 2017, the band put together Wild And Reckless a full-production theater event that ran for a month at Portland’s Center Stage theater and which also spawned last year’s full-length of the same name. There are plenty of plans for the future in the works, too. But for now, just for a little while, it’s time to revel in the joy and sorrow of a time and place that no longer exists—except of course, in a few hearts and minds, and in these wonderfully wistful songs.