Portland, Oregon’s Blitzen Trapper are about to release their eighth studio album, All Across This Land, out this Friday, October 2nd. Formed in 2000 and fronted by lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter Eric Earley, the band have always been ambitiously Americana, soaking in influences as varied as Southern rock, Wu-Tang, classic rock, and Laurel Canyon troubadours. Continue reading →
Drive-By Truckers are releasing a new album, English Oceans, on March 4th. It’s the band’s 12th album, and was recorded in a 13 day period last August. The songs on the Southern rockers’ album were written by Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley and continue to showcase their signature roots rock sound: dueling guitars, reliable, steady rhythms, keyboard floruishes and Patterson Hood’s yearning vocals. The Truckers have always had a lean towards Southern influenced classic rock and they uphold that tradition on the new album.
The new song, “Pauline Hawkins,” was inspired by a book that Hood read called The Free by Willy Vlautin. He told Rolling Stone:
“I had loved his first three novels and we had become pen pals in the last couple of years,” he says. “The new book was called The Free and I read it in about three sittings. Wonderful book.” He was especially moved by a character named Pauline Hawkins: “She had lived a tough life and had a brutal job, which caused her to be somewhat closed down in her emotions. I finished the book on Saturday and wrote the song on Sunday.”
Listen to the song below. Drive-By Truckers play World Cafe Live at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware, with Blitzen Trapper on Sunday, March 16th.
Much to the surprise of Eric Earley – the lead singer, guitarist and harmonica player of Blitzen Trapper – it hadn’t been “many years” since they’d played in Philly. In fact, it’s been less than one year since they opened for Brandi Carlile at the Merriam Theater. He was reminded of that performance from a vocally rogue fan while tuning his guitar between songs early in their set on Monday night.
Perhaps he’d mistaken his lyrics about riding the rails and nights spent on the open road under starry skies for his band’s actual lives. That sort of awkward moment aside, Blitzen Trapper played an intimate set ranging from their characteristic folk ballads such as “Stranger in a Strange Land,” from American Goldwing, to the groove-based “Thirsty Man,” off of VII, which hit the streets this week. The night was more intimate than average because of how sparse the crowd was. It influenced plenty of banter between the band and the crowd but not to the point of taking away from the show. So intimate, the band repeatedly commented on how quiet it was in the large room and even shushed them to as if a bit tongue-in-cheek. The crowd-pleasing “God & Suicide” and “Furr,” from the album of the same name, highlighted Earley’s harmonica prowess. The tinny sounding, reed instrument is truly his strong-suit. Its complimentary to their country rock twang while taking some of the attention off of their other guitarists and highlighting Earley to even seem as if he’s the singer-songwriter the modest crowd came to see.
Madison, Wisconsin’s, Phox started the night with with many vocal harmonies, guitar chords and keyboards blending together underneath soft trumpet playing throughout their delicately orchestrated songs. Their lead singer, Monica Martin’s breathy vocals fluttered through the air on “Slow Motion.” The band as a whole seemed satisfied with crowd’s reception even on a Monday night quiet enough to be interrupted with a pin drop.
Set to release their VIILP tomorrow, Blitzen Trapper headline Union Transfer tonight. The Portland, Oregon band forage for their sound in the dark, hidden forests of the Pacific Northwest and the deep, mind-bending backwoods of the South, blending alternative country with experimental, almost psychedelic warps. VII is streaming now on the New York Times‘ Press Play feature. TIckets and information for tonight’s show with Phox can be found here. Listen to Blitzen Trapper’s 2011 appearance on World Cafe here and watch the video for their 2009 single “Black River Killer” below.
Throughout the day it’s new music Tuesday on XPN; here’s a little sampler of some new records to dig into. Below are new songs from roots rockers Deer Tick, Blitzen Trapper and Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, the sunshiny future classic rock sound of the Haim sister, the kaleidoscopic brilliance of MGMT and The Polyphic Spree, our “Gotta Hear Song of The Week” from the San Francisco orchestral-pop band, The Family Crest, and The Head and The Heart.
Blitzen Trapper could have easily fallen prey to the typical rags-to-riches, cool-to-crazy Cinderella story. Though eight years have passed since lead singer Eric Earley ate hotplates in his sleeping bag and recorded songs under the caved-in ceiling of an abandoned warehouse, the Portland-based sextet has continued to create music evocative of the humble struggles associated with American living, combining the grandeur of classic hard rock with the simplicity—and sincerity—of folk songs. Going from homelessness to being mentioned in the pages of major music magazines is a notorious trigger for many musicians’ meltdowns; Earley, however, managed to turn it into the group’s sixth and latest album, Destroyer of the Void. The album carries the maturity of a band that has not only inched its way up to popularity, but is coping with the derailed personal life that comes from such popularity. Even with Beatles-esque vocal harmonies and a rotating selection of Led Zeppelin covers showcased on tour, Blitzen Trapper is still normal in the most eclectic, strangest way possible. Blitzen Trapper performs with Dawes at 7:00 p.m. at the Theatre Of Living Arts; tickets to the all-ages show are $20. —Marielle Mondon