I’ve got a few apologies to send to both the readers and the band for not getting this review out sooner. The latest offering by Portland-based Blitzen Trapper got lost in the shuffle, which sucks because it’s a diamond in the rough. I’m sorry to myself for this too, because I’ve been missing out.
The record is raw around the edges and eclectic in all the best ways, full of goofy melodies and quirk lilts, mixed with serious fuzz and psychedelic rock riffs. Some of the songs grate a bit (like the falsetto harmonies on “Miss Spiritual Tramp” and following irksome track “Woof & Warp of the Quiet Giant’s Hem”). But janglers like “Sci-Fi Kid” and the swaggering “Wild Mountain Nation” are worth traipsing through the odder numbers to find. In fact, I’ve been listening to the title track repeatedly since popping this CD in my computer — it’s just that good. The down-home country beat and groovy harmonies gracefully show the promise that this sextet holds. And the dreamy, distortion-laden “Hot Tip/Tough Club” is wonderfully cerebral.
The band is all over the map in style: acidic rock lays comfortably next to country, alongside subdued lullabies. In its quirkier moments, this band reminds me so much of another local band, The Vells — especially apparent on “The Green King Sings.” And quieter material, like “Futures & Folly” and “Summer Town,” harkens The Shins and Rogue Wave. But it’s the twangy, Western-infused numbers like “Country Caravan” that are my favorite of the lot. There’s just something so comforting about a slide guitar.
So I’m sorry that I missed all this as the disc lay amiss amidst a pile of junkmail. But it’s never too late to discover something great, right? And since the band just signed to local super label Sub Pop, we should all have a chance to do just that.