Blitzen Trapper

Pub date November 25, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW The pitter-pattering primal heartbeat of Blitzen Trapper’s whole-grain, acousti-organic stunner of an album, Furr, comes early in the recording, at track three with the title song, as songwriter-producer Eric Earley lightly rasps the tale of a boy turned wolf, turned human once more — haunted by dreams of running wild through the snow: "You can wear your fur like a river on fire<0x2009>/But you better be sure if you’re making god a liar<0x2009>/I’m like a rattlesnake, babe. I’m like fuel on a fire<0x2009>/So if you’re going to get made<0x2009>/Don’t be afraid of what you’ve learned."

"It’s metaphorical in a lot of ways," says Earley, 31, on the road with the band to Asheville, N.C. "But it’s an ancient story, in a way. It deals with the basic idea of the struggle between civilization and wilderness and the desire to return to a simpler state, which is impossible for us humans to do. But that battle is going on."

O what a lovely tussle it is, coupled with bravura organ-spiked, folk-rock opener "Sleepytime in the Western World," tooth-ache-sweet pop shot "God and Suicide," brash classic rocker "Gold for Bread," and glam nugget "Fire and Fast Bullets." With Wild Mountain Nation (Lidkercow Ltd., 2007) and now Furr, it’s as hard to pin down the Portland, Ore., beasties as ever before. At least there’s a pack for Blitzen Trapper to run with: one that includes current tourmates Iron and Wine, Fleet Foxes, and Bon Iver. "There has been more of a revival in natural music, using acoustic instruments and the human voice," offers Earley, whose first instrument was banjo, taught by his bluegrass musician father. "I’m not sure why that is, but I think it depends on whether there’s anyone around making that music well, twisting and turning it into something modern and unique."

BLITZEN TRAPPER With the Parson Red Heads and Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band. Tues/2, 8 p.m., $12–$14. Independent, 628 Divisadero, SF. (415) 771-1421,