And so we find ourselves in November, halfway between the cold canned beers of summer and the sweater-and-overcoat chill of winter, a perfect time to listen to Blitzen Trapper. The Portland, Ore., band’s music fits right into this seasonal space with thoughtful storytelling and a progressive country-folk-funk sound. Right on cue, they have just released their ninth studio album, Wild and Reckless (stream it below), and will be headlining Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday night (with Nashville, Tenn., singer-songwriter Lilly Hiatt opening). After some dabbles with a more experimental sound, Blitzen Trapper (above, performing “No Man’s Land” for KINK FM) are in a mature and confident space on the new record, concentrating on the songs themselves. The material will only bolster their already formidable live repertoire that, along with its subtleties and idiosyncrasies, totally rocks in concert, in November or any other time of year. —A. Stein | @Neddyo
Tag Archives: Blitzen Trapper
Zach Chance (vocals and piano) and Jonathan Clay (vocals and guitar) met as teens in Texas and bonded over a wide array of music. Eventually, each launched a solo singer-songwriter career, sometimes harmonizing together while on tour. Thanks to the enthusiastic crowd response to their combined vocals, Chance and Clay formed Jamestown Revival six years ago, making Southern-tinged Americana featuring their harmonies. Their first album, Utah (stream it below), burst onto the scene in 2014, offering “up a big, bright, and mellifluous set of meticulously honed, radio-ready, country-folk confections that blend tight Everly/Avett Brothers harmonies with breezy West Coast melodies that invoke names like the Lumineers, Blitzen Trapper, Band of Horses and Belle Brigade,” according to AllMusic. Jamestown Revival (above, performing “Love Is a Burden” live in studio for KUTX FM) returned last year with their sophomore effort, The Education of a Wandering Man (stream it below), which PopMatters called “an upbeat road album filled with rich harmonies.” Going on to add: “While Jamestown Revival’s harmonies are the constant that provides cohesion, it’s their melding of influences that makes The Education of a Wandering Man stand out in a sea of post-Black Crowes country-rock outfits.” See Jamestown Revival play live on Sunday at Brooklyn Steel. Maine holler-folk four-piece Ghost of Paul Revere open the show.
Tags: Avett Brothers, Band of Horses, Belle Brigade, Black Crowes, Blitzen Trapper, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Steel, Everly Brothers, Ghost of Paul Revere, Jamestown Revival, Jonathan Clay, Live Music, Lumineers, Music, New York City, The Education of a Wandering Man, Utah, Video, Zach Chance
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Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley founded Drive-By Truckers in Athens, Ga., in 1996. Over the years the two musicians—plus nuanced lyrics and plenty of guitar—have been the constant while the lineup around them has changed. An early Internet presence allowed the band to gain new fans before they’d ever seen the Truckers live. But following several years of steadily touring, the group released the double album Southern Rock Opera (stream it below) and things really took off from there. Since gaining wider acclaim the Truckers (above, playing “Shit Shots Count” on Conan) have served as the backing band on albums by Bettye LaVette and Booker T. Jones in addition to putting out fine discs of their own, including 2011’s Go-Go Boots (stream it below) and the recently released English Oceans (stream it below). The Guardian, in a rave review, says it’s “full of their familiar Southern rock: soul and brass occasionally adorn storytelling songs, which attempt to right wrongs and champion the worker against the Man. However, sharing singer-songwriting duties equally between founders Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley for the first time has brought out the best in both.” Drive-By Truckers are now out on the road in support of their new album, alongside Americana-infused rockers Blitzen Trapper, and you can see them both tomorrow night at Terminal 5.
Tags: Bettye LaVette, Blitzen Trapper, Booker T. Jones, Drive-By Truckers, English Oceans, Go-Go Boots, Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood, Preview, Southern Rock Opear, Terminal 5, Video
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Blitzen Trapper – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 3, 2013
Watching Blitzen Trapper, dressed to a man in coats and ties, take the stage last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg to the Knight Rider theme (!) playing over the PA, I could think but one thing: These guys mean business! Despite a great new album to work with, the Portland quintet opened with the first track off their seminal Furr album, “Sleepy Time in the Western World,” and despite some technical difficulties handled with humor and grace, you could tell from the start they had brought their A game. The second song, “Thirsty Man,” off the new VII record, wrapped up the Trapper sound—glorious and groovy countrified Southern rock by way of the Pacific Northwest. It went full exploratory with a spaced-out, double-guitar-and-keys jam that reached some nice places.
The show proceeded through several movements, the band pushing the boundaries of what their Americana roots could do while maintaining their unique crunchy sound. The new material fit in perfectly with the old, wolf in sheep’s clothing ready to devour the crowd, lots of teeth-bared moments. Small tweaks of instrumentation—acoustic guitars, harmonica, dashes of electric piano and organ—provided a lush soundscape on songs like “Valley of Death.” Midway through the set, just like on the album, the band delved into a manic movement, Eric Earley switching to electric banjo for the wild, almost experimental pairing of “Heaven and Earth” and “Neck Tatts, Cadillacs.”
Zipping through the set like pros, they followed that with a fantastic three-song stretch of pro’s-pro songsmanship, Earley and Co. pairing delicious imagery with gorgeous melody and perfect execution on “Black River Killer,” “Astronaut” and the sing-along-inducing “Furr.” The set’s final section was throw-the-hammer-down Southern rock highlighted by a two-guitars-are-better-than-one take on “Fletcher.” Jackets off and ties plenty loosened by the time the encore rolled around, Blitzen Trapper put in some serious overtime, playing a hefty six more songs. These included a positively Neil Young–like solo performance from Earley on “Stranger in a Strange Land” and the honoring of a couple audience requests like “Country Caravan,” off 2007’s Wild Mountain Nation. After 90 minutes of nose-to-the-grindstone rock and roll, they finally punched out their time cards with a Skynyrdesque rock out in “Big Black Bird.” Some serious business, indeed! —A. Stein
Blitzen Trapper – Music Hall of Williamsburg – July 15, 2012
Few groups have a command of as many genres as Blitzen Trapper. The Portland, Ore., band’s entire sound is comprised of nothing but sudden bursts of pure blues-rock, soul or psychedelia in moments so fleeting that they’re gone before you notice them. Like fellow Pacific Northwesterners the Fleet Foxes, the group’s got a knack for beards, general shagginess and pitch-perfect harmonies. And the sunny vocals of “Wayward Son” beckon back to the days of ’60s rock. “Saturday Nite,” off 2008’s Furr, started as a dance-y jaunt and finished in an epic Grateful Dead-esque guitar jam.
“Sleepytime in the Western World” was almost schizophrenic in how many sounds its sonic twists and turns jumped between. The show played out like a patchwork collage of 50-plus years of rock history and even included several direct homages to classic rock, with covers of “Hey Joe,” Foghat’s “Slow Ride” and an impromptu version of “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” seamlessly fitting into the set. None of this was easy musically, but it certainly helped that everyone in Blitzen Trapper is noted as a multi-instrumentalist, with members switching between guitars, keyboards, organs and cowbells whenever the moment called.
Even the crowd-pleasing melodihorn came out for a monster solo by the drummer on “Lady on the Water.” But the highlight of the show came from the strange coming-of-age fable “Furr,” garnering a solid sing-along effort from the audience. The band played on through a healthy five-song encore, bringing their show near the two-hour mark. But then, Blitzen Trapper’s a band that works hard for your money. —Dan Rickershauser
Blitzen Trapper/Dawes – Webster Hall – October 26, 2011
It seems like an easy enough formula: Step 1: Write great songs. Step 2: Play ’em live all over the country. Step 3: Success. Of course, it’s that first part that’s the trick. But last night two bands showed how it’s done in front of a sold-out Webster Hall. The first part of the double bill was Blitzen Trapper, which, at times, seemed to have built an entire irresistible sound solely out of musical discoveries buried in the Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek.” Working through material off their new album, American Goldwing, the band was a study in guitars and harmonies and well-placed embellishments, like harmonicas and Moog synth. Like on the album, they opened with the crunchy rock of “Might Find It Cheap,” exclaiming “…but you’ll never find it for free!” Frontman Eric Earley has one of those voices that you hear on a CD and just can’t wait to match the face to the voice.
Two or three guitars—acoustic and electric—mixed with keys, drums and bass, and each sound was like a single string, strummed together to make a pitch-perfect chord. Blitzen Tapper’s songs were superlatively realized and set a Gothic landscape, with tunes like “Astronaut” and standout “Black River Killer” off Furr. The title track brought out a unique mix of synth, slide guitar and harmonica, making otherworldly music out of everyday objects. The group made plenty of room for guitar solos and short jams, always highlighting the powerful melodies and songwriting prowess. Closing with “Fletcher,” the tale of a guy who perhaps had too much to drink to take the wheel, the set was musical storytelling and roots rock at its absolute finest.
Watching Dawes play New York City over the past couple of years is like tracking data points on a plot that’s continually progressing upward. The question is how high will it go and when will they get there? Taylor Goldsmith and Co. were all smiles as usual, working most of the material off their acclaimed Nothing Is Wrong album. Goldsmith has that “he looks like someone I know” kind of appearance and an “I know a guy like that” stage presence—the type that can’t stand still, with permanently tousled hair and might have a guitar strap with his name on it. But not many of us know a guy who writes love songs like Goldsmith does, with the conversational lyrics and just-right melodies.
Although there was plenty of energy from the band, the strength seemed to come from the quiet moments, like on “Million Dollar Bill,” which was good enough to melt the hearts of the ladies in the crowd and keep their dates’ heads bopping. The set built momentum as it went, peaking with a big guitar jam in “Peace in the Valley” that Goldsmith treated like calisthenics across the stage and then when drummer Griffin Goldsmith sang a great cover version of “Kodachrome” before turning the lights on the crowd for the joyfully inevitable “When My Time Comes.” —A. Stein
Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | www.jcmcilwaine.com
Blitzen Trapper – The Bowery Ballroom – October 11, 2009
I almost didn’t make it to the show. As evidenced by my throbbing headache (like a loop of Bootsy Collins’ bass solos playing in my brain) and my inability to hydrate, I woke up yesterday morning feeling the ill effects of staying out way too late and drinking entirely too much on Saturday night. And then my football team lost, disappointingly. (Is there any other way?) So all I wanted to do was go home and have a Chinese Meltdown, which is basically just an inordinate amount of Chinese-food delivery and me having a threesome with my TV and couch. But I missed Blitzen Trapper’s previous show at The Bowery Ballroom due to a stomach virus, so, against my better judgment, I set out for the Lower East Side on Sunday night.
“Of course it’s our pleasure to play again at The Bowery. It’s one of the all-time spots,” said Marty Marquis (guitar, keys and vocals). “You guys are lucky.” Blitzen Trapper is a six-piece band out of Portland, Ore. They self-released their first three albums, but their fourth disc, Furr (out on Sub Pop), is a revelation of guitar-driven roots-y folk with bits of Dylan, Neil Young and Wilco mixed in. Sometimes a lead singer can come off as being the whole band, but while frontman Erich Earley is a talented guitarist with a big, smooth voice, this is not the case with Blitzen Trapper. The group is made up of six solid musicians, who took turns harmonizing, playing guitar and keys and a slew of percussion instruments—at one point there was even a melodica involved—as they ran through much of the material on Furr, like “Sleepytime in the Western World,” “Lady on the Water” and “Furr,” which built slowly as the crowd’s nods gave way to whistling and stomping, hooting and hollering.
After a 75-minute set, the band took a short break before returning for five more tunes, including what Marquis labeled “a tasteful slice of ‘The Gambler.’” During the encore, the band became more animated and the music sounded different, like it was unhinged and alive. And I realized that for the first time all day, so was I. —R. Zizmor