You don’t see too many sextets these days, especially ones outside of the jazz genre (and that’s looking at the larger combos. The only one I can think of at the moment is Jaga Jazzist, and they’re a 7 piece group). Yet here you have a band from Portland, Oregon who does oh so well with a large group. You would think that, with 6 people in a band, parts (and tempers?) might be stretched pretty thin. Not the case with these guys.

Could you tell that these guys are from Portland?

Blitzen Trapper has 4 albums under their belt, having released their 4th only a few months ago. While the year has yet to finish in order for it to be determined how well they did with their latest release (I’m also unaware of current album sales to use as a statistic for popularity), I CAN tell you what Rolling Stone Magazine thought of their 3rd album, Furr, released in 2008. The album was ranked, oh I don’t know, as the 13th best album of 2008. So you know, no big deal there. The title track did them one better; or should I say, nine? That’s right, the very same magazine song Furr itself was ranked the 4th greatest single of 2008. The album also warranted a 2 page feature in said magazine. Another worthy mention goes to the song Wild Mountain Nation, from the album of the same name, which earned #98 on the top 100 list for singles in 2007. And that album (along with their first one) was self released.

So, as it has been with the timing of a few of my other posts, I author this because I just happened to had recently seen them in concert. It is a little unfortunate that for a band that has just released their fourth album, they are playing at relatively small venues like the Rickshaw. Like actually, had you asked me two years ago what the smallest venue to play at (as a touring band) in Vancouver was, I would have told you the Commodore. But no, it gets smaller apparently. The Rickshaw. And it wasn’t even sold out. It’s too bad, because I really think they deserve more fame than what they have now. In any case, I was thoroughly impressed with the concert. There are some bands out there that only seem to do well in a studio setting; Blitzen Trapper is not one of them. Not surprisingly, music from Furr dominated the set, with songs from their second and fourth album thrown in there as well. The band leader ( and for good reason: lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboard, harmonica. Also did I mention he pretty much writes all the compositions for the band?) Eric Earley, played a few solo pieces. For the genre of music that it was, I was impressed. Obviously not like a ridiculously energized concert, just because that’s not what they do.

Perhaps it has something to do with their genre. I’m not really sure how to describe it, but the best description I can come up with would be folk rock. I can’t call it country at all, just because the song style isn’t there (read: lyrics are not about Texas or the singer’s Ford truck?). As well, the chord progression varies way too much to be anything close to that. Nowhere near the blues progression that accompanies pretty much every country song I’ve had the unfortunate luck to hear. At any rate, it’s not something you would be likely to hear on the radio. Perhaps you might hear it in their hometown, but not abroad. You would likely need specialty radio channels on satellite radio, and even then I couldn’t be 100% sure.

At any rate, if you’re into music that runs into the more alternative and folksy side of things, these guys might be the one for you. Here’s a few good songs, although for all intensive purposes I’m ignoring the first album (it…was not as good as the other ones). Enjoy!

From Wild Mountain Nation.

From Furr.

From Furr.

My favourite Blitzen Trapper song. From Furr.

Everyone else’s favourite Blitzen Trapper song, at least according to Rolling Stone. From Furr.

Couldn’t find a studio version uploaded, so here’s a live version. Still does the trick though. From Destroyer of the Void.