The musicians of Blitzen Trapper must be tired of hearing about their 2008 songs "Furr" and "Black River Killer." When you make two nearly flawless songs that speak perfectly to a Northwest sensibilitywintry forests of the wildyou've set the bar pretty high. In an interview with the Indy a few years ago, lead singer and songwriter Eric Earley was up front about the band's fame. It wasn't even the album Furr that hit it bigit was the title track alone that captured the hearts of listeners. In it a boy runs with the wolves, and though he is one day beckoned back to be human againgetting married, having kidshe still dreams of "running careless through the snow." It is a heartbreaking work of art.
The new album from this Portland-based band, VII, disappoints because after "Furr" there's no going back to making merely "good" music. On top of that, this album ventures into different sounds in a scattershot way. On "Feel the Chill" and "Neck Tatts, Cadillacs" the sprinkling of hip-hop and electronica in the intros makes it seem like we're in Beastie Boys territory, rather than in the band's usual raw, folk-country landscape. Far be it from me to expect the band to fit a genre, and I applaud any artist for trying something new, but Blitzen Trapper's sound loses its authenticity when it's gussied up with disco riffs, wanky guitars and cheesy 1970s prog.
I don't want to dwell on "Furr" anymore. I don't. But on this record, good songwriting is buried under the cloud of too much trying. Peel it away, already.
Blitzen Trapper plays the Top Hat Sun., Oct. 13, along with the Hasslers. Doors at 8 PM, show at 9 PM. $18/$15 advance.