Blitzen Trapper sounds so American

Just don’t tell them we said so

Blitzen Trapper is an American band. I don’t mean this in a geographic sense, although the group does make its home amid the spectacular Pacific Northwest frontier. Rather, the music is resolutely American. Blitzen Trapper plays the sort of muscular yet meandering rock and roll once purveyed by folks such as Neil Young or the Grateful Dead; it’s an almost anomalous sound in today’s goo-goo-Gaga landscape.

But Eric Earley, Blitzen Trapper’s singer/guitarist and principal songwriter, scoffs at that notion. “I don’t think there’s really any such thing as American music,” he says. “Those names have very little meaning if you’re trying not to stay static in your writing.” He admits, though, that his environment plays a role in his music. “The Northwest acts as a backdrop for my songs, simply because that’s what I know and grew up seeing.”

Like so many rock classics, Destroyer of the Void, Blitzen Trapper’s new record, demands a front-to-back listen. Unlike Furr, the band’s previous record, there are few stand-alone singles here. Destroyer is not quite a concept album, but it doesn’t fall far from that tree. “The recording process was more drawn out than it has been in the past,” Earley explains. He wrote the songs for the album over a two-year period, incorporating running lyrical themes and a big-picture mind-set.

The end result is impressive and extensive. The music on Destroyer takes its cues from some improbable sources: Think borderline uncool, like the aforementioned Dead or Sir Paul’s proggy Wings. But Earley and the rest of the band have a distinct capacity for drawing out the very best aspects of these disparate influences, as the snarling Brian May guitar of the title track can attest.

Earley seems more interested now than ever in exploring the timeless quality of rock and roll as it existed in its prime. “I’m definitely into more classic forms of songwriting on this record,” he says. But there remains that indefinable something that sets Blitzen Trapper apart from the pack. Though the group draws from the past, the music looks ahead, a wayfaring gaze towards the ever-setting sun.