There’s a feeling that I get when I listen to the new Blitzen Trapper, an inexplicable sense of warmth and home. American Goldwing is a quintessential rock album. It is all things to all people. At one point it feels like Bob Dylan as is the case with “Stranger in a Strange Land,” but then quickly you’re confronted with the fact that it this isn’t Dylan, but rather the Black Crowes as you listen to “American Goldwing.” Wait, wait, wait “Taking it Easy Too Long” isn’t a Tom Petty song? Is it the Eagles? No, all the influences you hear, like the ocean in a seashell or a pool of water in the desert are figments of your imagination.
This album is fully and entirely Blitzen Trapper and if you’ve taken this long to figure out what you’re listening to, then shame on you. When they first released Wild Mountain Nation in 2007, the band intrigued me. When Furr came out in 2008, I was bemused and delighted at their growing musicianship and maturity. A band’s musical maturation is important. You want to know bands that didn’t mature? Blink 182, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, bands that got stuck in the same cycle of shit and regurgitate that shit to the masses like so much verbal diarrhea. There is something that has to occur within the dynamic of a band that allows them to grow as they grow older.
It happened to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Green Day and it’s happening to Blitzen Trapper. They are becoming more cohesive. This group from Portland, Oregon that has been plodding along now for nearly 10 years is hitting their stride. They are that son we had so much hope for as a newborn, and then you watch him grow steadily, make good choices and always try until finally you realize they’re everything you wanted them to be. This album, American Goldwing, is utterly phenomenal. It is the perfect mix of slow, fast and everything in between. It’s like the perfect mix-tape that you can’t stop listening to. It’s not a complicated album; it isn’t cluttered or over produced.
Simply put, this is an album that holds up to those bands out there that go about their days wondering who they should aspire to be. Don’t look to the Foo Fighters, who’ve mailed it in for 15 years and whose most recent album should’ve been titled Wasting Time. Don’t look to Kings of Leon who can’t keep it together long enough to create greatness. Look to Blitzen Trapper who have quietly flown under the radar, but perhaps have made the greatest contribution to indie rock with their endless stream of brilliance. Simplicity does not negate the fact that something can be unforgettable and Blitzen Trapper is most certainly that.