Album: Blitzen Trapper, Black River Killer (Sub Pop)

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The Independent Culture

It's no surprise to learn that both Wilco and Fleet Foxes have chosen Blitzen Trapper as the support act for their late summer UK tours, as the Portland, Oregon-based sextet share many of those bands' musical traits.

On this seven-track mini-album, the Wilco similarities are most pronounced on the country-rock raunch of "Big Black Bird" and the more introspective "Shoulder Full Of You", where acoustic guitar and piano support Eric Earley as he sketches Tweedy-esque melancholy in cryptic images: "I've got a shoulder full of you, pushing like a blacksmith's sorrow/Lashes full of doom/I miss you". "Silver Moon" is rollicking folk-rock laced with piano and harmonica, and a twist of the absurd, as befits a moon-touched mystery, while "Going Down" explores enigmatic territory with light, nu-psychedelic touches of organ and a serpentine melody akin to The Shins. But it's the title track that is their most distinctive, a folksy exercise in Gothic Americana whose murderer waits for divine intervention: the deaths are dismissed in passing, but his regretful compulsion torments him ever more strongly: "Oh when will the spirit come calling for my spirit to ascend?". It has the authentic haunted quality of an old murder ballad, routed through modern nonchalance and post-modern sensibility.

Download this: Black River Killer, Going Down, Shoulder Full Of You, Big Black Bird