Music Reviews

posted: September 30, 2011

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Blitzen Trapper American Goldwing

Sub Pop CD, LP
Blitzen Trapper

Wow, it’s 1976 again! Not that that’s a bad thing, but seriously. Portland’s furry retro rockers Blitzen Trapper’s American Goldwing breaks no musical boundaries and displays no major creativity. Unintentionally or not, the derivative set evokes an actual Honda Goldwing motorcycle: Comfortable in a way that the bumps in the road become smooth and pleasant.

Think of the group’s sixth effort as a musical Where’s Waldo: Just keep spotting the various influences. Mid-era Kinks, early Black Crowes (minus the really rocking component as, remember, we’re talking comfort here), a dollop of Allman Brothers, and even a few slightly distorted arena-rock guitar riffs litter the aural landscape in an asymmetric way.

True to Portland’s peaceful and easy vibe, the title track begins with ramblin’ in mind. “I left my home and all my money to wrestle with the wind,” sings Eric Earley, steadily becoming more ambitious as the song’s adventuresome protagonist leaves the road behind and, presumably, blasts off for the stars in the following “Astronaut.” If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear That 70’s Show was back on the air and “Your Crying Eyes” its new theme.

After drifting off into dreamlands filled with whiskey, wasted hours, and shaky relationships, the album’s penultimate “Street Fighting Sun” comes across as a wake-up call that takes everyone back to reality via Foghat-referencing riffs. Afterburners blown, Blitzen Trapper closes with folksy familiarity in the form of the ironically titled “Stranger in a Strange Land,” a feeble attempt at being Dylanesque.

–jeff dorgay