Monday, February 09, 2009

Top 20 Of 2008: #5

5. Blitzen Trapper - Furr

2008 was pretty much the year of shaggy, sensitive dudes making records that sound, if not made in bedrooms, at least written in them. Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Elbow all had break-out albums, and rightly so; they're all really good. Bob Dylan and Neil Young put out reissues that showcased their more introspective sides. But none reached the heights or stretched the boundaries like this Blitzen Trapper record.

Part of the reason I became so enamored with Furr is its refusal to tone down the wild eclecticism that Blitzen Trapper is known for. The album trips along from lo-fi Beck indie folk to Basement Tapes-type rave-ups to fuzzy, raucous space-rock tunes. But where their first record got criticized for being all over the place and not having much of an identity, Furr is the sound of a band realizing how to blend all of its influences into just the right potent punch of country-rock muscle.

The title track tells the story of a boy raised by wolves who meets a girl, returns to civilization and then ultimately returns back to the wild. It feels really timeless, like something you might have found on an Alan Lomax field recording in some form. These guys are fantastic storytellers, and they accomplish the rare feat of telling vivid, compelling stories in their music without inviting the dreaded label of "literary songwriters." Everything feels really rock 'n roll, with big attitude that is accompanied by a big brain and a big heart.

These guys have big beards and sing about nature and girls. Much like those other bands that got so much more press this year. But whereas I feel that Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver don't have much breadth to their craft, Blitzen Trapper is about to grow into a truly great band, one that has the potential to make some era-defining music. Expect great things from these guys in the coming years, but in the meantime enjoy this piece of rock perfection.


Blogger Beaze said...

I'm thoroughly enjoying your Top 20 of 2008. I appreciate your delivery of the albums one at time and I especially love the widget that allows me to listen to the music you're highlighting without having to leave the page. I'm discovering so much stuff that I missed last year. Hope all is well in LA!

5:27 PM  

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