Blitzen Trapper have been a consistent band for many years now, the formula would have you believe that by their seventh album, aptly titled VII, they should be cashing in on that solidity. For now however they seem content to riff, shuffle and stomp their way onwards at an even pace.
That doesn’t mean that they haven’t evolved slightly though, with their previous two albums, American Goldwing and Destoryer Of The Void, had a slightly 70s FM friendly style of country rock, now they have taken a modern tact, using turntable scratches to that country blues. While it would be farfetched to say this album was rap or hip-hop it does borrow some of the ingenuity you might be more likely to find on an early Gorillaz album. Perhaps it is the jump from Sub Pop to Vagrant Records (Lojinx in Europe) which has brought them to this point.
Opener ‘Feel The Chill’ and the follow up ‘Shine On’ both bustle and move with simple guitar licks and hooting harmonica, it’s probably one of the best opening duo of tracks you’ll hear this year aside from the opening tracks on AM from the Arctic Monkeys. While Alex Turner and co have been playing Dr Dre, Eric Earley and his boys have also been paying attention to the understated beats in other genres as ‘Ever Loved Once’ displays with its measured claps between the bass drum. Samples trip over themselves to begin ‘Earth (Fever Called Love)’ showing that Blitzen Trapper aren’t going to be left behind.
Their strongest asset though is Earley’s ability to paint a picture with his lyrics, there is no better example of this than on ‘Thirsty Man’ where he describes love as being akin to “rain in the desert to a thirsty man”. The rest of this track is too good to spoil. From there the album gets by on country stories over booming beats and the odd juicy lick.
It’s a testament to the first half of the album that you want to return so quickly and do away with tracks such as ‘Heart Attack’ and ‘Don’t Be A Stranger’. Don’t be fooled into letting the second half pass you by completely though, it’s worth the listen as ‘Faces Of You’ offers a jungle groove, sexy slow dance.
Listening to this album, any of their albums in fact, makes it difficult to understand how they aren’t more popular, and you wonder what they’d have to do to gain the kudos they deserve. Since going scantily clad in videos isn’t much of an option for a group of bearded, grown men then they’ll just have to keep plugging away – the worlds loss is very much your gain in this instance.
Picture: Junichi Furukawa – Concert Co-Op