Blitzen Trapper, Destroyer of the Void

Blitzen Trapper, Destroyer of the Void

It’s a little weird, but with all of the backwards-pointing, ’60s/’70s-loving bands I’ve been hearing lately, from The Dutchess & The Duke to Wolfmother, have forced me to at least attempt to re-learn as much as I can about the music of those two long-past decades. Why? Well, because otherwise I’m left fumbling in the dark, listening and getting these maddening moments of deja vu where I know I’ve heard something a hell of a lot like a particular song or riff or whatever somewhere before.

And yeah, that’s pretty much what happens to me every time I crack open Blitzen Trapper’s latest, Destroyer of the Void — even more than on the past releases I’ve heard from these guys, they seem to cheerfully (always cheerfully, by the way, even on the sadder, slower songs) grab hold of any classic rock touchstone they can find, mine it for all its worth, and then move onto the next one. There’s a crazy familiarity to the whole album, that feeling that you’ve heard it all before but can’t quite put your finger on when and where.

The opening title track lays it all out the best, I think, starting off with gorgeously-harmonized voices over a clavier (maybe?) before those majestic, half-stumbling drums come stuttering in and makes things a bit more pastoral — it’s like “Bohemian Rhapsody” somehow merged with one of Zeppelin’s more folk-y songs. Then the spaceman keys come in, and it becomes a full-on glam-rock track…for all of about a minute and a half, after which it shifts gears and turns into a “Suffragette City” rewrite, all woozy, jangly, high-voiced, snarling rock. And then it collapses back down to the baroque keys-and-voices from the beginning; if it weren’t for that return at the end, by the end of the track, I’d be left wondering how I accidentally hit the “skip” button.

There’s a definite, deep-rooted love of the Beatles going on throughout, even on the folky songs (although I’m surprised at how much they make me think of both Zep and Cat Stevens), that makes me think of long-dead Austinites Cotton Mather. Both bands take those Beatles song structures and McCartney-ish vocals and graft them onto a warm, bright, modern-day sound — and in the case of Blitzen Trapper, they throw the kitchen sink in, besides. This thing’s equal parts Tom Petty and Paul McCartney, dipped in the melted-down wax of AOR hits from the ’70s.

The crazy thing of it, though, is that the band’s able to make it work, and work nicely, at that. They absorb all those influences and make them their own, not content to simply pull off a rewrite job but fully intent on making something new. The result is tracks like the absolutely stellar “Laughing Lover,” which marries the Beatles with the pop-punk edge of early Elvis Costello to make a shiny nugget of bouncing, speeding, yet somehow melancholy pop (and I really dig that ’80s riff in the back during the choruses), or the quiet-yet-hopeful “The Tree,” a duet with Alela Diane that splits the difference between The Dutchess & The Duke and Crooked Fingers’ more pastoral moments.

I’ll admit that when I’d listened to Blitzen Trapper in years past, I’d kind of given a noncommital shrug: more indie-folk with pretty harmonies and Byrdsian guitars, yeah, I get it. This time, however, with the fuller-sounding (to me, at least) melding of anything and everything under the sun, they’ve got my full attention.

[Blitzen Trapper is playing 10/12/10 at the House of Blues, along with Deer Tick.]
(Sub Pop Records -- 2013 4th Ave. 3rd Floor, Seattle, WA. 98121; http://www.subpop.com/; Blitzen Trapper -- http://www.blitzentrapper.net/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, October 12th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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One Response to “Blitzen Trapper, Destroyer of the Void

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » WE LIKE THINGS 2010: Amazingness you need to hear & see from last year. on February 24th, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    […] Blitzen Trapper, Destroyer of the Void […]

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