Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Blitzen Trapper - VII

Album review by jay@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


I would love to be able to say that I have listened to all the music that I have read about, been told about, dreamt about. Sadly, I haven't. The rather less exciting things in life, such as work, talking to people, reading the paper, have prevented me from doing this. And so I approach the world of Blitzen Trapper with a recognition of the name, a slight awareness that they were on Sub Pop and that this is there seventh album. I started to do the very modern thing of Googling them, then I thought that would give me nothing but possibly finding what they had for breakfast (it didn't, and I don't really want to know). So this is new to me, but I can assure you, I now have a new, wonderful world opened to me, and I'm gonna fully indulge in it. For within in the first play of 'VII' I am wanting more.

With a sublime hook, vibrancy and irresistibility, 'Feel the Chill' takes you dancing into the day. It has a looseness and a tinge of roots that is enhanced by dashes of a Hammond and harmonica. A shimmering banjo makes its mark behind a sweet hit of slide. I want to say that this brings to mind Alabama 3 and Beck, but I feel that it may be that they could of been touched by Blitzen's spirit rather than the other way round. By the time you're into 'Shine On' you are dancing around your room, looking for a sweet gal to join you in its delights. There is a rich, raw, female counterpoint vocal that adds the sweetest country vibe. Not in some bland Taylor Swift way, more akin to a whiskey-fuelled Nancy & Lee. A wicked bar room spin that will have all of you moving. Things then take a richer, more stately turn with 'Ever Loved Once'. It has a restraint to it that makes the strong dynamics reflected in the heartfelt tale spun through the lyrics, even more powerful. 'Ever Loved Once' is a song that is quietly windswept and expansive. There's a widescreen feel of looking out over a breathtaking vista with storm clouds framing the horizon.

After the subtle power of 'Ever...', more gentle and light is 'Thirsty Man'. Initially it felt a little throwaway, struggling to come out of its predecessor's shadow, but the song grows with a subtle grandeur and some sparkling Manzarek-like keys lighting through the song's latter half, and it rides out on the warmest groove. 'Valley Of Death' is almost inevitably a shade darker than 'Thirsty Man'. A pure blues mouth organ cuts through the song as we hear "with a head full of booze I started to pray". This is a velvet glove of a song, a glove wrapped round a punch of diamond edged granite. Loose-limbed, with nothing more than that banjo and sounds of the tracks, woods, and bloodied knuckles. 'Oregon Geography' is a gently mesmerising oddity that the Beastie Boys were so good at leaving hidden deep in their albums. Hitting us up with a punch of beats that MCA would have been proud of; 'Neck Tatts, Cadillacs' comes on like Mike Ness' Portland hoe-down infused cousin. 'Neck Tatts..' is a belligerent, idiosyncratic shot that will get you on your feet with moonshine in hand. Ushered in on some grandiose sampled strings we are drawn into 'Earth (Fever Called Love)'. It comes on like a lost soundtrack to some sepia '70s commune film, where the love is easy and free and the women shave nothing. As if to hit us up fully with the vibe there is the best use of flute that I have heard all year. David Holmes will be putting this into one of his peerless mixes.

We are then riding along to see Daisy Duke in "Grandpa's pick up truck" with the sunshine hit that is 'Drive On Up'. It's a tale of brothers in jail, beer and what colour her eyes are: a blast of a beer-soaked song. Maybe because of the breeziness of 'Drive On Up', 'Heart Attack' feels a little disposable. It has some rather marvellous elements of the early Wings and dashes of The Small Faces, and a irresistible groovin' solo, but it somehow doesn't click. Then I feel it may be one that's going to grow into an album highlight over a few plays. What can't be doubted is that it culminates in one of the album's best conclusions. The feel then becomes more subdued, hushed, later in the evening. Looser, and the better for it, 'Faces Of You' is a languid slow dance. All swirling sounds and lysergic-drenched harmonics, perfectly taking us to 'VII''s closer, 'Don't Be A Stranger'. It is the perfect epitome of the campfire, tender, foot-tapping song. There is a delicious jauntiness that unfurls into a rich and rewarding country song. "If you love me then don't be a stranger". This rings through the song and I can say that I have fallen slightly in love with 'VII' and the riches that it has. From now I won't be a stranger to it or the rest of the wonders that Blitzen Trapper surely have to give.





Blitzen Trapper's website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album

Catch them live:

Nov 05 The Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA
Nov 06 Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA
Nov 08 Pappy & Harriets Pioneertown, Pioneertown, CA
Nov 09 Porter's Pub, La Jolla, CA
Nov 10 Club Congress, Tucson, AZ  
Nov 12 The Parish, Austin, TX  
Nov 13 Club Dada, Dallas, TX  
Nov 15 The Bluebird Theater, Denver, CO
Nov 16 The State Room, Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 18 Neurolux, Boise, ID  
Nov 19 The Bartlett, Spokane, WA  
Nov 20 The Leavenworth Festhalle, Leavenworth, WA
Nov 21 The Wild Buffalo, Bellingham, WA
Nov 22 The Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Canada
Nov 23 Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA
Nov 30 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR
Nov 30 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR





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