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Monday, 23 September 2013 14:32

Charting the Music: Blitzen Trapper, 'VII'

Charting the Music: Blitzen Trapper, 'VII' Tyler Kolhoff
Written by Travis Dettmann
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Driven by faith and steel strings, Blitzen Trapper has traded in old times for new joys. Thirteen full years have lead to "VII," a healthy mixture of mountain twang and electronic grooves.

"VII," as you might have guessed, is Blitzen Trapper's seventh studio release. Parting ways with Sub Pop, the band has found a new home with Vagrant Records, providing 12 genre-bending stories about love, faith and life.

88.1 KDHX Chart Position: #2 Americana and #2 CMJ Top 30 for the week of September 17, 2013.

Record label, release date and producer: Vagrant Records will release "VII" on September 30, 2013; it was produced by Eric Earley and Michael Van Pelt.

Can be heard on: Wax Lyrical with Caron, Music at Work with Curt and Emotional Rescue with Cat Pick.

RIYL: Deer Tick, Dawes and Dr. Dog.

Hometown: Portland, Ore.

Standout tracks: Beginning with "Feel the Chill," Eric Earley sings about the mysteries of the house next door. The gospel track "Shine On" is straightforward, letting us know a thing or two about faith. Rooftop sessions and late night mountain scenery fill "Oregon Geography."

About the artist: Hailing from the Northwest since 2000, Blitzen Trapper is an experimental alt-country outfit making music for themselves. After a few self-released records, Blitzen Trapper produced "Wild Mountain Nation" in 2007, earning them acknowledgment from Rolling Stone, Spin and Pitchfork Media as well as a contract with Sub Pop Records. "Furr," "Destroyer of the Void" and "American Goldwing" were the next three releases, receiving favorable press coverage and allowing the band to embark on various tours, both as openers and headliners. Packed full of uppers and downers, "VII" is the newest installment from the quintet.

This label: Founded in 1996, Vagrant Records was established by Jon Cohen and former Face to Face manager Rich Egan in California. In 1999, Vagrant became widely known when The Get Up Kids' sophomore effort "Something to Write Home About" hit no. 31 on the "Billboard's Heatseeker 200" chart, a surprising success for both the band and the label. Eventually after collecting an excellent roster and becoming one of the top indie labels, Interscope Records took notice, acquiring a percentage of Vagrant. As time progressed, Vagrant's focus was no longer fixated on the emo punk scene and diversified itself by signing acts like the Hold Steady, PJ Harvey and Band of Skulls.

About the album art: The cover of "VII" displays a suited man in a forest as he hops across vividly graffiti-ed railcars. Past and present combine through the contrast of art styles and colors. This Pleasantville-esk picture could be in relation to Earley's time train-hopping while homeless. Either way, Blitzen Trapper has produced something both visually and audibly stimulating.

Play it while: Lusting for train tracks while traveling on paved roads.

KDHX coverage: Will Kyle reviewed Blitzen Trapper's concert at the Old Rock House on September 18, 2013.

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