Monday, August 6, 2007

PDX Pop Now! Part II


I headed off to AudioCinema this evening to catch the last act of the last night of the (FREE!) PDX Pop Now! festival, the experimental alt-country six piece Blitzen Trapper. I'd seen these guys once before, at the Fez last September. They were playing MusicFestNW, and were one of the acts on that festival's bill that I was most looking forward to seeing, having just previously stumbled across their MySpace page and a few random MP3s out there in Interwebland. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by that show. The sound was weird, and the band just seemed to be... not quite off, but really not hitting their stride either, just not communicating well. A little sloppy. Which, considering the quality of their recorded output, what I'd heard of it anyway, was a little surprising.

Clearly a lot has changed in the last year for these guys. They've refined and yet moved beyond their country rock schtick. They've self-released a third album, Wild Mountain Nation, which is being hailed in certain quarters as a breakthrough (8.5 on Pitchfork!). They've opened a secret Modest Mouse show. They've been signed by SubPop. And I have to say, they've tightened up their live act quite a bit, if that last show I saw can be considered a reliable indicator. They very nearly tore the roof off the place tonight. Not quite, but nearly... They were still a bit all over the map musically at times, referencing Dylan, Skynyrd, even the Butthole Surfers. But in their better moments they exhibited a pop sensibility somewhere between Wilco and the Replacements, while maintaining a weird manic energy all their own. Those were the moments that made me wish I'd paid a cover to get in! This, my friends, is a band to keep an eye on.

Have a look at their video for Devil's A-Go-Go here. Unless you're prone to epileptic seizures, in which case you might want to dim your screen and just listen. Trust me on that.

4 comments:

Trisha said...

Tommy!

They certainly do have a unique sound. Rough, raw and full of energy. Thanks for the heads up!

tommy said...

Glad you liked what you heard. Portland's music scene has been on fire the past couple years, and I really think these guys are one of the best bands in town at the moment.

The Guilty Carnivore said...

I'm really digging that new album. Bummed I had to miss that show.

tommy said...

Yeah, the new one IS good, eh? And they're off tour, so they'll be playin' around...