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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Portland, Oregon-based, Blitzen Trapper combine elements of rock, pop and a little country to great effect; not least you have the evocative nature of the lyrics. The band have toured for the better part of two decades, during which time they have released their breakthrough album, Furr (2008) and staged a musical entitled Wild & Reckless (that ran for 28 performances at Portland Center Stage). Hence the title of the record, and with it an extension of the stage show the musical is given a shot in the arm as you have killer story-ballad “Joanna” (performed in a fashion Bruce Springsteen has tried to obtain; in his quest to replicate the folk ramblings of Woody Guthrie) lead the charge. It is such a peach of a song it is of a quality near impossible to follow.
Variances in the music may not always be of my preferred taste, but there are many out there that will love all their music. “Rebel” opens the album in dynamic fashion as it speaks of a man who on following in his father’s footsteps falls foul of a scam, and with “Wild And Reckless” next up the music is nothing if not exciting. Such the magnitude of the driving rhythm (Brian Adrian Koch; drums, vocals; Michael Van Pelt; bass) and adventure as stellar electric lead guitar (Erik Menteer; like Marty Marquis (vocals) he too plays keyboards) accompany genial front man, Eric Earley on lead vocals.
While I could have done without the extended opening on “No Man’s Land”, but with “Stolen Hearts” up next normal service is resumed as the record drops back into a winning groove as more fine music is offered. “Dance With Me” has more twang as the 1980s is revisited, but far more to my taste is the finer cultivated keyboards aided “Love Live On”.
“When I’m Dying” edges more towards rock, but still under the Americana umbrella. Better in my mind is “Baby Won’t You Turn Me On” before you have the experimental visual styled “Forever Pt.2” and, keyboards warmed “Wind Don’t Always Blow” round off the record.
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