I ain’t afraid to say I tried on your skirts…

I am trying not to be judgmental.

I really am.

The other morning I was driving to what I sometimes call work, I got to a school zone and slowed down to 20 or less as required, suddenly I was being tailgated by a raised full size pick up, he put on his bright lights and the row of super bright LED lights over the cab and started swinging from side to side. Then he decided to move into the turning lane and pass me while still in the school zone, an illegal move at the best of times. All I could think was where are the police as he drove his Police Lives Matter flag waving oversize diesel smoke belching behemoth accelerating through the school zone.

As I drove to work I was thinking to myself, do the ends ever justify the means? This is the excuse the Christian Nationalists and the GOP make for Trump, he won the election, he or his like will probably win the next. I saw a commercial for a local politician here in the Pacific North West, his tag line was if business can build a wall to keep looters out why can’t we build a wall on the border. We are entering another season of the politics of fear, fear the Russians(since the 40’s), may be good reason for this, fear the Christians, fear the Muslims, fear the young, the old, those who look different than us, fear men, women, liberals and conservatives, fear the educated, the uneducated, the elite, the poor, the working man, the unions. At what point do we say enough of this.

We don’t want to educate people, critical race theory may creep in, be careful what math you teach, control, dictate and do as you are told.

We have managed to control the population by keeping them stupid and unhealthy, anything that threatens this is a communist plot.

Aaaahhhhhhhhh. The answer Blitzen Trapper.

I was struggling with the new album when I first talked about it. After spending time with it and eventually getting to attend a live show I have now decided that it is a psychedelic masterpiece. Also Requiem may be the great lost Lindisfarne song.

Altogether it’s a bit of a strange album moving from weird to middle of the road via folk-rock and all out psychedelic oddness.

Live the band were a bit nervous. There have been some changes new members etc. Eric Earley is still there being enigmatic. About twenty minutes into the show there was a big smile and off we were back into familiar unfamiliar territory.

It’s been a long time since I was at a show. There were masks, bare faces smiles and swaying. It’s good to be at shows again.

At least after the anger of the start of the day there was a good end to the day. In the words of Neil Young.

“Live music is better, bumper stickers should be issued.”

See now I feel better.

Rant over for now.

A tree felling happened as well.

it was only a change of plan…

When RSD meant something.

Take the time to record the entirety of Harvest then release it only on vinyl at 45rpm’s.

Well all the songs are there. They’re performed in the same order as the original album. They do have that Blitzen Trapper twist though. Which is hard to describe.

all my love songs fall on wasted ears…

Snow turned to ice and then the trees started falling over, which in a state as green as the western part of Oregon is a significant problem. Then the phone rang, “there’s a tree across the road to work…”

Cutting a tree out of the road by car headlight and flashlight is an experience. Not necessarily a bad one, plenty of neighbors and willing hands to pull things out of the road. My chainsaw skills are rudimentary but acceptable. It was good to work with others, Covid is not real during a natural disaster. It was only the best day as I drove down the road that I realized exactly how big the tree was. Guess was right when she said it was a big tree.

We got home about 10pm and I texted to say it was out of the way and then the power left us.

The ice had finally come, we were lucky not to get with the heavy ice build up other parts of the county got, but electricity moves in a circuit and when the circuit is broken in many places that stuff all has to be put back together.

We all eventually had to come to terms with what the lack of investment in infrastructure really means. Or as my Dad would say “when the capitalists are in charge of what matters, worry…” no power, no cell phone coverage and obviously no internet. Suddenly we were in an agrarian age, and work was expected to continue. Get up with the sun and bed at sunset, reading books by lamplight into the evening.

Ultimately we were without power for 9 days, some people around us are still without power, including one of my programs. Generators hum away in the hinterlands.

Luckily we had a generator, that failed on day three and had to be replaced with a borrowed one, thankfully Eric got power back after one night so could loan us his, Eventually we could power two space heaters to keep the living room livable, the refrigerator and the coffee pot and when everyone had gone to bed the stereo for awhile. It was after all a small generator, just enough to keep us going and the coffee pot working.

Sitting in the lantern light listening to music without the other distractions that we fill our hands and time with usually, no reading interesting facts about what you are listening to or writing meandering ramblings about life or experiences however loosely connected to the music.

The power when it arrived came like a harbinger of problems, the septic system alarms blaring and discovering a leaking pipe below the sink, putting things back together in some semblance of normalcy was a chore in itself that took most of the weekend. It’s all good though at the end of the day.

So here we are still in the mud puddle of life taking a breath before another work week starts in too few hours. I dare not even wonder what may happen next as the horror may drive me insane. There is still the clean up going on and on, lineman everywhere hanging from their buckets putting the grid back together, of course it’s all above ground and subject to all the same problems

While friends and neighbors still manage to come out and haul tree limbs and make piles then it should be okay. Yesterday when the power came on one of the neighbors found all the ammunition he had been stockpiling for the insurrection and let of a salvo that could’ve been the start of something else, country life as they say.

We did however not have the problems Texas had/has, but that’s another thing depending on your news channel of choice. Syd likes the snow and ice, he thinks he is part husky. Of course give him a stick and moment of attention and he is happy wherever he is, regardless of the weather.

So it’s time for Blitzen Trapper and American Goldwing. It stomps along like Randy Newman playing in the Band pretending to be Queen at times. Banjo’s guitars and the myth of an America maybe we will see again, who knows. It’s warm in the house and there is the hope that things can get better, we haven’t watched the news in ten days and maybe we have kicked the habit.

Blitzen Trapper occupy that area of music that gets labelled Americana I guess. They are not afraid of to liberally steal form the all their predecessors, whether that’s the Allman’s or Neil Young add in a piece of Krautrock or Prog and mix it up with a liberal dose of psychedelia and the storytelling of the boss, put their foot on the foldback and rock.

Songs from the hinterlands of the American West, cowboys, murderers, drugs and the dirty underbelly of life, prior to the last administration even.

I’m not really good at reviews, however country songs about spacemen are hard to come by or forget.

ooohhh ooooohhhh aaaahhhhaaa

I hated the new Bitzen Trapper album the first time I heard it.

I had pre-ordered and loyally waited and waited for what felt like the best part of half a first pandemic year.

Then it arrived all esoteric bull shit and muted guitars and vaguely psychedelic musings and I put it away. Like a loyal fan I kept getting it out and playing it and waiting for something to happen.

I am not sure anything really clicked or grabbed me or even made me sit up and pay attention, but again and again these past weeks I have pulled this off the shelf almost without thought and played it. This evening I found myself playing it again and just drifting away on the guitars and keyboards, it’s an album that feels muffled at times and subdued. It may be the perfect album for the times, some esoteric lyrics about the meaning of life and drugs, or maybe that the meaning of drugs and life, I have no idea what it’s about. It is definitely more of the navel gazing folk-rock side of the Trapper on not the foot on the fold back monitor guitar god Trapper though.

now I’m here on my bike again…

RSD or Record Store Day is a bit of a joke most of the time. Too many colored versions of records we probably have or three copies of the record we want only released in Bolivia playing at 78RPM and pressed on shellac. They will all three of them turn up on Discogs or Ebay for the price of a small island in the Pacific.

Gone are the days when a band would take off to the thrift store, buy a bunch of kids instruments and some dodgy casio keyboards and make an E.P. as we used to call them.

The Blitzen Trapper Kids Album is such a novelty. 5 tracks at 45RPM on a 10 inch record, it sound more like Can than Disney. Five quirky songs that document spelling bees, children’s stories and chopper bikes, what is not to love about the whole concept and it will make you dance.

No it wasn’t $16.99 either as that would stretch the pocket money way too far.

They can do it live too:

In a phantom world spinning out of time We’re just a sci-fi kids making dirty rhymes…

It’s been a wild few days for me, upset, frustration, righteous anger and holy wrath has been rained down on all approaching and spleen has been vented.

My brain has been at full throttle, until I am eventually running on empty. Sitting here exhausted after what seems like 24 hours of well something else.

To settle me down I played a little Trapper, their most diverse schizophrenic blitzkrieg of clashing styles. Psychedelic country stomps to indie pop passing through a little space rock and straight up rock. Wild Mountain Nation is exactly that a confusing melange of sounds, stomps, squeals and howls. It’s the sound of the woods at night if they were populated by crazed manic badgers, wolves and bears.

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Wild Mountain Nation is the album made by the freak you met on the trail. You are a little afraid of him but he has some strange sort of attraction to, he pulls you in with his stories and moonshine and you end up staying for the company. He probably then steals your shoes and leaves you to become his successor gyrating under the light of the moon holding a mason jar of hooch and smiling as you commune with the earth.

There are also sweet harmonies, melodies aplenty, jagged guitars loping drums, odd time signatures and enough slide guitar between the Hendrix riffs to make anyone happy.

 

And if I ever grow old and I’m lookin’ back On these wild and reckless times Where they the best days of our lives? These wild and reckless times…

I was sat here towards the end of the day and thinking. This is often my way, everyone is in their room or bed and here I am alone slouched on the couch, the dogs laying on the a/c vents keeping the house too warm as they cool down. As I said I was thinking/listening to some music. In this case it was the most recent Blitzen Trapper album, Wild and Reckless which continues the bands blend of folk, prog-rock, tricky time signatures, stadium rock choruses and catchy pop songs via some histrionic Queen like vocals.

IMG_0312So zoned out towards the end of my wakeful period I thought, “do I still have favorite bands?”

Do I?

I now own more physical music than I ever did as a teenager, according to discogs over 1,300 records, thats the large black and other various colors, this does not count the CD’s in the attic of which I have no way of knowing how many  other than there are five boxes. I also have access to a streaming service that we pay for as it seems the artist should get something out of me and my families addiction for musical sounds however little.

As the 90’s began and I prepared to leave the homeland for the USA I had 312 records total. I sold most of these as I thought I was moving on to CD’s never to look back and it seemed too much hassle to pack them for a 6000 mile journey.

Thinking a little harder I tried to decide what would make a favorite band. Is it owning the entire discography? Is it going to see them play live? Is it the collection fo aran knowledge rattling around the fevered balding head? Or is it when you find yourself humming a song you have heard many times just to calm yourself down when things get tough about 4pm and you should have left for home?

So here I am on the couch as the sweating a little as the dogs have covered all the vents realizing that as I move into my alleged middle years  I am still the fan boy music fan. Able to realistically say that is one of my favorite bands.

These days my choices are broader as I am past the strict demarkation lines of tribal loyalty. I do however realize that if by some strange chance there was a call to arms for the true Hawkwind fans in the Portland metro area I would pull on my faded levis and converse with my Sonic Attack t-shirt and head out to do battle with the forces of evil side by side with my brothers in arms. The same is true if I was called to the bar by my fellow Fairport Convention brethren to raise a glass of real ale in battle against the Coors and Bud Lite swilling country hordes.

There are now many favorites over many genres, bands I never thought I would buy a record by never mind listen to on the radio. Bands I would have mocked for their lack of originality or musicianship.

Strange thing this maturity, it seems to have simultaneously cured my blinkered allegiances and created some firm thoughts. At least I have not become conservative in my viewpoint or politics along with some of my besuited peers.

 

Woo woo, woo woo Welcome to Earth my son yeah…

How do you figure out you’re a fan?

Is it when you realize that you own just about every album they have released apart from the mp3 only live release? And you want that.

Is it when you after listening to all of the albums chronologically decide to spend the money on the tickets for the show in December? This probably would have happened anyway.

Or is it when you find yourself sitting in the woods listening to All Across this Land and find a great peace settle on you? This is generally what happens when I listen to music in the woods, well apart from certain types of music that involve teutonic knights pillaging their way across the landscape as the peasants flee.

I guess it is when a band become the preferred listening for at least a week. Or is this just the completist collector in me?

It’s probably when you pre-order the new record and then order the soundtrack from the stage show. Or is that again just the collector?

So finally I am able to actually admit without shame I rather like that band Blitzen Trapper. Yes they are quirky, a little country, a little folk, they have created a stage play but more importantly sometimes you want to really throw your foot on the monitor and rock out with them. They are in fact perfect for the Oregon woods or to be accurate the Cascade foothills. Their vaguely folky rock is perfect for a meander by the creek and a sit in the damp fall woods.

Also any song that begins with Woo Woo Woo is an instant classic.

Any band hearkening so much back to the 70’s need to hook you up with a Zeppelin cover. If you want to see some awkward dancing take a look around 1:26.

So I am going to accept my fan status, however this pretty much makes it difficult to be objective in any way.

Her are some pictures form my morning stroll as well it’s hard to believe that somehow I managed to own this.

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Here’s to the lone and wayward son

Here is one from my favorite local Portland(Oregon that is) bands, Blitzen Trapper. Destroyer of the Void was a surprise when it came voidout, following on the folky leanings of Furr, the opening track starts out as if Queen played folk-rock with the Beatles and then runs the gamut of classic rock, folk with space rock synth moments swooping through the mix.

I have always found Blitzen Trapper to be a little more honest and in your face and less reverential than their near contemporaries The Decembrist’s. They manage to reference folk-rock without paying homage, or placing a finger in the ear. They are definitely more rock than folk delving into seventies guitar god moments that can cause you to imagine the seams splitting in the striped pants as the foot goes on the monitor. At times they can be a little throw everything at the song but it always comes out sounding so fun. Quirky time signatures and lyrics that at times remind me of Dylan or the Kinks, a heady mix of influences that can confuse at times as much as delight.

Anyway Destroyer of the Void arrived in a pretty gatefold sleeve and looks and sounds wonderful. My son already stole it and disappeared into his room with the volume set to 11, all because I had to stop playing it for Spanish homework.

The obligatory Record Store Day connection is that Blitzen Trapper will be releasing their live version of Harvest for this years day. I probably won’t go but maybe Chris will pick me one up.

Anyway here are 10 from the Trapper.