Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blitzen Trapper - Black River Killer EP

The release of Furr in 2008 launched Blitzen Trapper into the indie rock spotlight, landing the Oregon-based experimental folk-rock band at the top of many international music charts. They received a two-page feature in Rolling Stone and were ranked #13 on their 'Best Albums of 2008" list as well as being named as supporting acts for Wilco and Fleet Foxes during their UK tour.

In August Blitzen Trapper released the Black River Killer EP, a collection of previously unreleased tracks that up till now fans have only been able to hear in concert or on one of the bands self released CDRs. While the CDRs were cheap and low quality this new EP is professionally recorded so don't let fears of low quality stop you. The EP contains six new songs and of course the title track "Black River Killer", a Johnny Cash-syle murder ballad fans may recognize from 2008s Furr. Despite being on the short side, we're talking 17 minutes of music people, there are still enough well-written songs and cool lyrics to make Black River Killer well worth a listen.

There really are some great songs on this EP, from the distorted harmonica blasts on "Silver Moon" to the finger picking greatness of "Black Rock". Its really hard to pick a favorite track, but I tend to gravitate toward "Going Down", a great piano-driven piece that sounds like something Ringo Starr might have recorded after waking up after a hard night. "It's loose lips sinking ships tonight", lead singer Eric Earley tells the listener, "This girls a cluster of light / Drips I think of lipstick burnt round fingertips". I can't help but compare this song to early Beatles or ELO, Earley's aged voice working perfectly with the guitar almost makes you forget that this is a group of 20-somthing guys from Oregon.

And of course there is the aforementioned title track, Black River Killer, a macabre tale written from the perspective of a murderer after the towns people have discovered his latest victim. "They found a girl's body in an open pit / Her mouth was sewn shut but her eyes were still wide / Gazing through the fog to the other side". The song continues with a great western/gothic tale that charts the killers encounters with the law and his journey seeking redemption. It's a great song that brings back memories of watching old western gunslinger movies with my grandfather when I was young.

Black River Killer is a great collection of songs that show off the full musical gamut Blitzen Trapper is capable of. An interesting blend of folk/country/indie rock with bits of Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, David Bowie and the Beatles sprinkled all over the place. It's easy for any true fan of music to find something they like in the mix. And if you do like what you hear make sure to check out Furr, I can guarantee you wont regret it.

As a bonus here is Wilco and Blitzen Trapper performing "California Stars" in Dublin. Enjoy!