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Blitzen Trapper ‘American Goldwing’

Portland-based Blizten Trapper have been around a while, not that the UK has really noticed – well, not to quite the same degree as the States has. This is probably mainly due to a lesser level of exposure on these shores, but perhaps also because this is very American music, the kind of music to soundtrack the open highway, or the sparse wild west country, or something else lazily stereotypical. This is no bad thing – though Blitzen Trapper’s alt-folk-rock comes with a bearable dose of country and an excessive dose of nostalgia, this kind of wholly American music sounds refreshing because the UK doesn’t have these kinds of bands.

American Goldwing’ is the quintet’s sixth studio album – released on the ever so important Sub Pop label – and, after the proggy experimentation of their last effort ‘Destroyer Of The Void,’ sees a move back into more straightforward rock’n’roll. Eric Early may have no particular sound of his own, but he is one hell of a songwriter and entirely owns his influences. I am not going to compare him to Dylan, because everyone else does that, and they do that all day long. There is no denying he delivers his melodies, structures and lyrics with a Dylan-esque, story telling swagger, and ‘American Goldwing’ is the sound of Early finally embracing his inner Dylan (there was never any point in fighting the comparisons).

The energetic numbers are the best of their career, with songs like ‘Tour Crying Eyes’ and the rhythmic opener ‘Mind Find It Cheap’ channeling a 70s, southern rock vibe, full of little Lynyrd Skynyrd solos. The ballads are a little more hit and miss – whereas ‘Girl In A Coat’ is a brilliantly warm little folk tune, the country ballad of ‘Taking It East Too Long’ is bland. There are two standout tracks, which are – in this reviewer’s opinion – the two finest tracks of Blitzen Trapper’s career. The first is the single ‘Love The Way You Walk Away,’ a mid-paced number with a Tom Petty feel that presents itself as the band’s most fully formed song yet – everything about the track is spot on, from the banjo, the slide guitar, the harmonica interlude to the mighty melodious chorus. The other is the up-tempo, Led Zep howler of ‘Street Fighting Sun,’ which has a ripping riff, searing solos and a screeching vocal. It sounds big.

This breed of rootsy Americana is unashamedly simple and oldscool, and all the more appealing because of it. We may not have any open highways to blast this out on, but ‘American Goldwing’ boasts the kind of music that’ll make you feel free and distant even when battling the underground crowds on your way to work. So stick it on your iPod and drift away.

Originally published by AAA Music here

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~ by cliveparisrozario on September 19, 2011.

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