Blitzen Trapper, American Goldwing

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 09.13.11 in Reviews

The Portland quintet Blitzen Trapper has always worn its early-’70s record collection on its sleeve. It’s hard to deny the band’s debt to post-Woodstock genres like Workingman’s Dead country-rock, “Cripple Creek” Americana, and Laurel Canyon folk, but their sixth album (and third for Sub Pop) American Goldwing might get mistaken for T-Rex’s glam-rock masterwork Electric Warrior at a distance, its cover all glowing gold against a black backdrop. And from the crunching strut of “Might Find it Cheap” and “Street Fighting Sun,” one might assume that boogie-rock is foremost on the band’s mind. But Blitzen fans know that the band shapeshifts fast enough to confound any music service algorithm. The slide guitar-spiked “Fletcher” finds a character drinking whiskey from a jar sketched out in Eric Earley’s most cracked Jeff Tweedy impression, while “Love the Way You Walk Away” might land the band on mainstream country stations.

Triangulated between the above styles, Goldwing alights on them, never quite resting on any. “Your Crying Eyes” dresses “Suffragette City” in a vintage western shirt for a Silverlake bar, “Astronaut” matches the ambition of early Elton John, and “Girl in a Coat” might be their most dead-on Dylan ode to date (were it not tied with closer “Stranger in a Strange Land”). Flashes of Black Oak Arkansas, Doobie Brothers, Thin Lizzy and more abound. Spotting the influences never detracts from Goldwing though, for the band has the chops to back it all up. If anything, Blitzen Trapper embraces AOR from one end of the FM dial to the other.