MUSIC BOX: Get blitzed at MoM

By on July 7, 2015

Music on Main hosts electronic-folk sensibilities of Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper  has drawn comparisons to Wilco for sewing together electronic and folk sensibilities. The band headlines Music on Main at Victor City Park Thursday. (Photo: Robbie Augspurger)

Blitzen Trapper has drawn comparisons to Wilco for sewing together electronic and folk sensibilities. The band headlines Music on Main at Victor City Park Thursday. (Photo: Robbie Augspurger)

The experimental, Americana indie-rock foundation of Blitzen Trapper is arguably some of the most intriguing music of the last several years. The writing is personal. The live show is extremely tight and moody.

And the subtle use of electronic textures over folk tendencies points to only one legitimate comparison: Wilco.

They’re returning to the Tetons on Thursday to play Music on Main.

When Blitzen Trapper played the Pink Garter Theatre in 2012, they had just released “American Goldwing,” an album that took a more classic direction similar to other West Coasters like The Flying Burrito Brothers and The Grateful Dead, but also The Allman Brothers and Cat Stevens. It seemed conservative, even traditional, when compared to earlier albums like “Furr” (which ranked No. 13 on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums of 2008), and “Destroyer of the Void” (2010), which was full of sci-fi synths, Beatles harmonies, and country-rock twang.

But it seems the band’s blitzkrieg of acoustic and electric rock escapades through a decade-long career is coming full circle. Over the last year, they’ve managed to cover some of the best singer-songwriters in the game, and have showed a reconnection to Americana in the process. Choice picks were Ryan Adams’s “To Be Young,” Bob Dylan’s “Unbelievable” and “I Don’t Believe You,” and a song-for-song cover of Neil Young’s most famous album, 1972’s “Harvest,” which Blitzen Trapper released on vinyl as a live recording on Record Store Day, April 18. The band is preparing to release its follow-up to 2013’s “VII” in September.

“It’s a little more of a live, aggressive record,” frontman Eric Earley said. “It’s probably the truest sounding to our live show.”

If you’re ready for heavy-riffing, fuzzed-out slide guitars with blasting drum side-by-side with a plucking banjo, strummed acoustic guitar and soaring harmonies, check out Blitzen Trapper on Thursday. For a musical contrast, don’t miss the storytelling songs and jam grass prowess of local sextet One Ton Pig.

Blitzen Trapper with One Ton Pig, 6 p.m., Thursday at Music on Main in Victor City Park. Free, all-ages.

Debut album from Wood Smoke Rising

Writing, arranging and recording an album in “various houses and apartments” is not glitzy, but with the tools available in this day and age quality control is not only attainable, but a worthwhile education and a microscopic view of sound. The experience of figuring out the process on a DIY level is respectable, and the personal rewards can reach its fullest potential.

One of Jackson’s freshest up-and-coming acts, bluegrass quintet Wood Smoke Rising, has done just that. The self-titled, 10-track release was a team project between members Andy Gabel (banjo/vocals), Josh Metten (fiddle), Lucas Nash (mandolin), Rob Sidle (bass/vocals) and bandleader Mike Swanson (guitar/vocals).

Engineered by Sidle and co-mixed by Sidle and Swanson, the album of original material is split between instrumental dashes and lyrical experiences via a gruff-voiced Swanson. The instrumental flourishes — often arranged and led by Nash — encompass a weighty portion of the attention span, also highlighted by Gabel’s prominent banjo rolls, especially on the song “Solitude.” The studio set has the push and pull feel of a live show, at times mixed with an emphasis on what the individual players have to offer as opposed to the sum of the greater whole.

Moments of that group chemistry show up in a terrific arrangement of “Water Rising,” as well as the seven-plus minute Nash jazz-grass tune “Release the Hounds,” which features solid bowing and thumping from Sidle in an open-aired jam format with a dramatic close. The Swanson/Gabel co-write “Tony’s Blues” is a standout track showcasing Gabel on electric harmonica, with a solid solo run via Metten, and a chance for everyone to showcase their chops. “Wood Smoke Rising” is evidence of a talented band of instrumentalists having fun and developing a sound that brings to mind no other contemporary string band, especially when Swanson is singing. PJH

To preview album tracks, visit WoodSmokeRising.com/Music. Beginning Friday, digital copies of the album will be on iTunes, while CDs will be available via the band’s website.

Wood Smoke Rising album release party is 10 p.m., Thursday at Town Square Tavern. $5 includes a copy of the CD.


About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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