Oregonian alt-country rockers Blitzen Trapper are back with their eighth studio album All Across This Land, out this October. The band has stayed busy touring and recording over the past few years releasing its previous studio album VII in 2013, live album Live In Portland in 2014 for free through Bandcamp, and Live Harvest in April of 2015, a song-for-song live rendition of Neil Young’s Harvest.
Originally known as Garmonbozia, the band changed its name and released its self-titled debut in 2003. The band reportedly changed its name to Blitzen Trapper in reference to a young Eric Earley’s junior high girlfriend who doodled reindeers on her Trapper Keeper binder in school. Many of the songs recorded as Garmonbozia made their way onto future Blitzen Trapper releases with other tracks only found on the early demos distributed at shows around Portland. After first releasing albums through their own label LidKerCow, the band signed with Seattle label Sub Pop records in 2008 and released their breakthrough album Furr, which was listed as #13 on Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Albums of 2008.” Its last two studio releases have come via Vagrant Records.
The title track and opener “All Across This Land” combines front man Earley’s signature folk stamp with a classic, edgy guitar sound. The same vintage Blitzen can be found in their original form on “Rock and Roll (Was Made For You),” and frankly, throughout the entire album. Earley sings “rock and roll won’t ease your mind / but you’ll find it’ll ease your soul.” His voice effortlessly shines in the swooning ballad “Mystery and Wonder.” With a reputation as a bona fide songwriter, Earley’s poetic lyricism has been an integral part of the band’s sound since its beginning in 2000. With the release of All Across This Land, the Pacific Northwest five-piece have made a conscious effort to return to its quintessential form heard on Furr and American Goldwing.
Tracks like “Lonesome Angel” and “Cadillac Road” function as the folky, nostalgic ballads yearned for on every Blitzen release. All Across This Land also contributes swift-moving rock selections like “Nights Were Made For Love” and “Let The Cards Fall,” where Earley sings “I’ve been shakin’ hands with Devil / you know his fingers they were made of sand / and I think Jesus speaks in every tongue / not just in American.”
Starting with “All Across This Land,” the album concludes with the stripped down acoustic track “Across The River,” a fitting finale. Through a decade and a half of shows, songwriting, and critical acclaim Blitzen Trapper still embodies the blue collar drive of a band at war with the road and at peace with annually pouring their hearts out to fans nationwide, regardless of the venue or city. Amassing over 10 releases since its inception, the band continues to hit their stride with All Across This Land.
Recommended If You Like: Fleet Foxes, Dr. Dog, Deer Tick, Fruit Bats
Recommended Tracks: 5 (Lonesome Angel), 7 (Cadillac Road), 1 (All Across This Land), 10 (Across The River), 3 (Mystery and Wonder)
Do Not Play: None
Written by Harrison Hipp on 10/21/15