The first thing that’s going to hit your mind like a freight train when listening to Blitzen Trapper’s newest album ‘VII’ will be: Fuck, this sounds like Beck. The next thing that’s going to swoop in on your impressionable conscious is going to be: Fuck, I love this. A third and final thing that will crash land into your brain with fiery intent will be: Fuck….I love this…Who do I have to kill to get this. This record is jaw-droppingly good. It’s fun, it’s floaty, but it’s got enough self-awareness and skill to be taken seriously as a record, and not as an offhand circus freak thing. The movie reference I’m going to go with for this article is the original Rocky, and not because there’s the immediate connection of Roman numerals (everything after Rocky III was a pretentious pile of retarded bullshit, whilst this record makes me dizzy with its quality). No, the original Rocky and the new Blitzen Trapper record are the same because they both contain tremendous amounts of heart, are presented as kind of an underdog but have the obvious charisma of a champion, and there is so much of the everyday American man packed into their features, a bald eagle wearing sunglasses and riding a monster truck wouldn’t even come close as a comparison.
If you’ve ever heard previous stuff from Blitzen Trapper, you’ll know two things. Firstly, these Portland dudes fucking rule harder than King Leonidas. Secondly, you’ll know that the only true fault in their music is that it can bog itself down. There is no trace of that on ‘VII’, but instead a resonating warmth and a smiling atmosphere that permeates from start to finish. Oh, don’t worry, there’s still an abundance of all the stuff that made you fall in love with Blitzen Trapper the first time round…gnarly vocals, twang fa’ dayz, and an avalanche of banjo and harmonica. Oh dear Jesus is there a shit load of banjo and harmonica. BUT FEAR NOT! These aren’t your vest-wearing, English-tea toting pretentious twats (cough, Mumford and Son, cough).
The album is so immensely enjoyable, because although it consistently stays engaging, Blitzen Trapper will often throw out new ways to intrigue the listener. The opener ‘Feel the Chill’ is the opposite of it’s name, alt-country with rattlesnake bite, there’s a less-than-conservative nod to Primal Scream on ‘Shine On’, and ‘Ever Loved Once’ is a song so full of soul it makes a Mississippi congregation choir sound like a retirement home. There’s an old observational critter ‘Thirsty Man’, which throws in some very cool gypsy harpsichord, a wispy crackler in ‘Oregon Geography’, and ‘Drive On Home’ which, and stay with me here, is Lynyrd Skynryd if they knew how to make music. Yes, that’s a big bold claim that should make you wrinkle your nose in total disdain, but ‘Drive On Home’ has enough Southern Soul catchiness to hire a hit man on Kid Rock, because any use he was to humanity has been replaced by this song.
Suffice to say, this album fucking rules. There is such a light-hearted vibe that fills the whole thing like a porn star fills a cup of orange juice (you have a dirty mind), and there’s a comforting confidence that Blitzen Trapper know exactly what they’re doing to ensure you have the greatest listening experience possible. The whole record is an old-timey, black and white picture presented as a shiny, modern convenience, and it works better than anyone could have expected.
‘VII’ comes out October 1st through Shock Records in Australia. You need to buy this album more than you need basic ingredients for sustaining your life.