“I been taking it easy too long,” sings Eric Earley on Blitzen Trapper’s American Goldwing. Maybe he has, and that’s why Goldwing finds his Portland band rocking out much more than usual. Songs like “Street Fighting Sun” pit the band’s country vocal harmonies against fierce distorted guitar. Of course, most of the songs (including “Taking It Easy Too Long”) are more in keeping with Blitzen Trapper’s usual laidback acoustic folk-rock sound. Even the rockers are decked out with the occasional banjo or twanging jaw harp. So, Earley and his bandmates may turn up the volume from time to time, but they still sound like they belong in 1974.
Blitzen Trapper has been around since 2000 but started gaining national attention after it signed to Sub Pop and released the acclaimed Furr in 2008. Furr sounded very ’70s, but with some surprises and detours. My friend Josh sums up BT nicely: “All the cliché elements are there, but the Band would never have written a completely nutso psychedelic glam song like ‘Sleepytime in the Western World.’”
Last year’s Destroyer of the Void felt like an attempt to re-create a ’70s acoustic singer-songwriter record, while Goldwing would work as a soundtrack to a remake of Dazed and Confused. So, if you’re not ready to take the plunge into bell-bottoms and Birkenstocks, there’s a big hoop you’ve got to go through before you can appreciate Blitzen Trapper. However, if you’re ready for that kind of commitment, Earley will make it worth your effort.
Dawes and Smoke Fairies are also on the bill.
Blitzen Trapper, October 9, Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach, 858-481-8140. $18 advance/$20 at the door.