Blitzen Trapper: Black River Killer EP

~ Thursday, 3 September 2009
Since signing with Sub Pop in 2007, Portland, Oregon sextet Blitzen Trapper have been making waves. Their previous release, Furr was named 13th best album of 2008 by Rolling Stone magazine. Black River Killer, a seven track EP, is a collection of older songs and a clever introduction to new fans, capturing a musical snapshot of the band’s indie pop and folk rock sound.

It opens with the title track Black River Killer a melodramatic ditty about a cowboy killer in the same musical zip code as The Meat Puppets. While label mates Fleet Foxes go for Crosby, Stills and Nash, there’s a much cooler doffing of the Stetson to the Flying Burrito Brothers with equal dollops of psychedelic pop and quirky electro moments that surprise and delight in equal measure. If reluctantly pushed to describe what they’re close to, imagine if Kings of Leon took time off and did an indie-country-folk-psychedelic project with The Eels and Beck (good Beck, when he’s heartbroken) and Stephen Malkmus from Pavement. Forget fancy studio pyrotechnics, who needs them when you’ve got a natural sound as warm as Neil Young at his best? That’s the feel on this EP.

On Silver Moon and Black Rock we are in safe hands as we go towards Dylan territory circa The Band’s Basement Tapes. On Shoulder Full of You and Preachers Sisters Boy the band flex their sinewy song writing muscle, there’s no flab on this EP. Maybe Portland, Oregon’s weather is to blame. Those dry summers and wet temperate winters making the songs, clean, pure, natural and true.

The songs are excellent, strong, snappy, like Raymond Carver short stories, they get in, get out and don’t linger. Like the best scrambled egg, toast and coffee in a deserted diner in a one horse town, this is a fitting soundtrack to your great Northwest adventure. Though whatever you do, watch out for the town’s killer cowboy.

[][][][] (4/5)

Review by Charlie Brown