Blitzen Trapper's output is decidedly more palatable than the sonic detritus showering our conversation: imagine Pavement's sprawling Wowee Zowee crossed with an Eagles greatest hits collection and a CD-R compilation of Elephant 6 Collective highlights. On 2007's dynamite, self-released Wild Mountain Nation, country jousts with art-rock, Brit invasion pop doesy-does with techno, and bluegrass flirts with psychedelia; all the while, songwriter/lyricist Earley is spinning impressionist, fantastical vocal yarns that compliment the super-gluey riffage he's cooked up. Given all of this stylistic inbreeding, his day-to-day disc rotation comes as a bit of a surprise.
"I have old favorites that I always listen to -- a lot of old country music, like Merle Haggard, a lot of Sonic Youth, Pavement, and punk stuff from my younger days," he says. "In high school, Sonic Youth was my favorite band. [BT keyboardist] Drew Laughery and I saw them, like, eight times! These days, I'm more into songwriting stuff -- [Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore's] Trees Outside the Academy was really engaging."
Formed in the Portland area at the beginning of the millenium, Blitzen Trapper built a solid rep through tours, boisterously catchy compilation singles, and a pair of self-released albums (2003's Blitzen Trapper and 2004's Field Rexx) before breaking out of the indie-rock farm-team field with Nation's jerky schizo-sprawl of odes to sci-fi kids, hillbilly hoe-downs, sunny indie rock, and twangy back-to-nature anthems. Even prior to signing a label contract last year, the band was self-sustaining enough that its members haven't worked day jobs for three years. Given all of this -- and the fact that Earley's been obsessing over African music lately -- the group's Sub Pop debut could be as merrily catchy and twisted as its back catalogue, or veer off in a totally different direction.
Earley's comments on the as-yet-unnamed new album are tantalizingly evasive: "It's pretty much done; we recorded 35 songs. It'll probably come out in another 3-4 months -- it depends on what Sup Pop wants to do. It'll probably be like Nation, but it's gonna be different -- a little more under control, but at the same time, I think it covers a little more ground in terms of genre and scope."
(Fleet Foxes and Hands on Fire are also scheduled to perform).
Sun., March 2, 8:30 p.m., 2008