Blitzen Trapper are good. Real good. As indicated by the acclaim garnered to their 2007 breakout, Wild Mountain Nation, this Portland based sextet can hang in there with the best of 'em. Their newest offering on the Sub Pop label, Furr, twangs, bangs, stomps, and coos with an Americana ferocity that's both country revivalist and, surprisingly enough, refreshingly sincere.
Singer, songwriter, and perennial front man Eric Earley sings with a disproportionate country croon and earnestness that can go from 60's Dylan to The Eels in less than one track. Overlapping a pounding, whiskey soaked piano, Blitzen Trapper crank out soulful tunes about God, nights out on the town, love, death, and rattlesnakes.
"Sleepytime in the Western World" opens up the album with a piano driven fervor that melts in and out of bluesy guitar riffs while Earley hoots and hollers over the lot of it. Furr's title track, however, is the clear standout, as it infuses the album with stripped down, acoustic balladry that's remorseful, honest, and hopelessly optimistic at the same time. Earley croons, "And now my fur has turned to skin / and I've been quickly ushered in / to a world that I confess I do not know," poignantly pronouncing a distinct tone of vulnerability that diffuses throughout the rest of the album with a refreshing sincerity that really sets Blitzen Trapper apart from their contemporaries.
Overall, Furr walks a perfect balance between hootenanny, story telling, and balladry that helps set the bar for bands of a similar mold. And while Blitzen Trapper may have a name that's as difficult to enunciate as it is to spell, their melodies are definitely more than memorable and will stick in your head for more than a few days after first listen. -chris gayomali