Photo by Robbie Augspurger
The best aspect of Blitzen Trapper is their sheer sense of adventure. The Portland, Oregon quintet is nominally a country or folk band–there’s the requisite drawl from singer Eric Earley, pedal steel guitar, and golden harmonies. But that twang is accompanied by spacey-sounding keyboards, prog-rock guitar solos, and a hefty dose of experimental touches. Since their 2007 breakout, Wild Mountain Nation, each Blitzen Trapper album has been an exciting listen, even as the group has toned down some of their past eccentricities.
On the group’s seventh album–appropriately titled VII–Earley looks back to his youth growing up in the Pacific Northwest. The songs bubble with the band’s trademark blend of sci-fi funk and country, but underneath Earley sings about religion, drinking, and hitting the open road with a Dylanesque eye for detail. Writing about Oregon, he points out that his home sits on “a more volcanic spur of the Rocky Mountains,” and that seems to fit with Blitzen Trapper’s inventive sound. VII sees a release October 1, and recently the band stopped by KUTX’s Studio 1A to preview a few songs from the record. “Thirsty Man” hits a Southern-fried groove early on before opening up into the kind of jam that only Blitzen Trapper can lay claim to.