Blitzen Trapper is a folk band — until the synthesizer kicks in

Blitzen Trapper could be considered a folk band — until the synthesizers kick in

Contributing Culture WriterSeptember 15, 2013 

  • IF YOU GO

    Blitzen Trapper

    When: 9 p.m. Sept. 19

    Where: Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave.

    Tickets: $12 advance, $15 at the door. Available at (859) 309-9499 or Cosmic-charlies.com.

Styles of music such as folk and Americana pair well with some form of transportation and the open road. When it comes to present-day bands that are folk-rock practitioners, Portland, Ore.-based Blitzen Trapper has earned a reputation and a fan base with a sound that can be all over the map.

But if you asked the band's frontman and songwriter, Eric Earley, after more than a decade, none of the band's albums come together with a set plan for where he and his bandmates will end up.

"I listen to what I like, and I do what I like. I don't think about the future a whole lot," Earley said. "We just kind of go all over the place."

Sticking to this formula, or the apparent lack of it, has certainly paid dividends. The band's first three self-released albums established roots in roots music. Melodically and lyrically, Blitzen Trapper shows a fondness for various eras of Americana, folk and country, with Farley painting detailed narratives. However, the band just can't help itself when it takes creative liberties with those genres by throwing in the occasional synthy glitch, fuzzed-out lo-fi guitar, psychedelic flourish or unconventional rhythm.

The band plays Sept. 19 at Cosmic Charlie's in Lexington.

Blitzen Trapper's releases were met with generally positive praise from critics, but nothing like its fourth release, 2008's Furr (Sub Pop), which found itself on many major publications' year-end lists as one of the best albums of 2008, including Rolling Stone's.

Blitzen Trapper's fan base has grown with each subsequent release (2010's The Destroyer of the Void and 2011's American Goldwing), but it hasn't lost its penchant for experimentation. The band's seventh album, simply titled VII, will feature some nostalgic guitar licks, the occasional dusty harmonica wail and Farley's Dylan-esque voice, but many of the songs' mid-tempo backbeats, whether the opening track, Feeling the Chill, or the genre mish-mash of the Beck-ish Oregon Geography, hit harder than usual and aim directly for the listener's hips.

"I like a lot of groove to the music," Earley said. "There were a bunch of tracks that sort of had that going on."

As Earley — along with bandmates Erik Menteer and Marty Marquis on guitar, Brian Adrian Koch on drums and Michael Van Pelt on bass — hit the road to show off the new songs to their fans, he said that seeing Blitzen Trapper live will do more for a listener's understanding of the band than any one recording.

Playing live is "what we do best. It's the most important thing. If you can't do that, you're not a band," he said. "I think everything's better live and everything comes together in a way that makes a lot of sense."


IF YOU GO

Blitzen Trapper

When: 9 p.m. Sept. 19

Where: Cosmic Charlie's, 388 Woodland Ave.

Tickets: $12 advance, $15 at the door. Available at (859) 309-9499 or Cosmic-charlies.com.

Blake Hannon is a Mount Sterling-based writer.

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