Artist: Blitzen Trapper
Label: Sub Pop
Welcome to the top 10 of our countdown here at Animal Noises. Today, we'll be weighing in on #10, Blitzen Trapper's Furr. For those who are unaware, this indie rock outfit is from Portland, Oregon, and boy, does it sound like it. I find that that's what makes this record endearing though. The band doesn't abandon their roots in any way, rather, they embrace the fact that they are from the Pacific Northwest, and play songs that may paint a picture of being in the woods somewhere in Oregon or Washington. Even with that theme firmly intact though, Blitzen Trapper shows a need to produce a separate sound with each track, similar to what they've done with past albums. The practice may be maddening to some commentators (you can read more about that across the web), but I find it to make them more interesting, as it keeps you guessing on the record.
The journey out west begins with "Sleepytime in the Western World," a great mood-setter, grabbing your interest with some folksy riffs and a slightly country twang. Joining up on this "jamboree" are some classic rock and roll and blues sounds, as well as a few bits of electronic experimentation. Blitzen Trapper does a great job here of being able to melt those electronic elements seamlessly into the high-tempo folk feel, since they're not forcing it, nearly adding when deemed necessary. By the time you're at the third track, title song "Furr," you're fully engrossed. It presents an intriguing tale of a young man who seems to go to the wild, only to come back, and be confused looking at the world he has reentered. The song is a great example of storytelling, and is made all the better with its mix of howling effects and harmonica. For the remainder of the record, the western, woodland themes continue, and never slow too much, keeping you involved throughout. For comparisons, see Wilco, Okkervil River and Department of Eagles.
Best Track: "Furr"