Music

Where Is Here?

Blitzen Trapper's Portland

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We know that Blitzen Trapper calls here home. I say "here" as if I really know what that means. That's what happens when the help is freelancing from hundreds and hundreds of miles away. Never been to Portland. Never been much west of Colorado, in fact. The Pacific Northwest is a baffler to me. Everything I know about where you live is from photographs, and this cadre of ragamuffins in Blitzen Trapper are from the confines of a city I can only imagine.

This holographic identity could take precedence now that the band's new full-length, Wild Mountain Nation, has been declared some of the best in new music by the tastemakers at Pitchfork. The Portland I'm choosing to think about—completely based on the music and riddle-ish words of the Trapper—is verdant with ass shake-ability, which I am to assume means that the pavement in the streets is reinforced with some give, and a shine for some slides and easy swivel.

Wild Mountain Nation plays like a bizarre jam centered around schizophrenic focuses, all laid out with its back pinned to the brown earth beneath a canopy of weeping willows or a diminishing fireworks display. The songs take hold of you—slipping their fingers into the loops of your belt—holding on with a bend as if they were born to ride behind you on a grumbling motor bike, letting their dusty heads of hair get washed by the wind. It's a country fling and yet there's the same crackpot nature of Beck, freewheeling and scattered. When they sing of drive-bys on "Miss Spiritual Tramp," you feel the unconquerable urge to recite something about a drive-by body pierce. What a lovely town you all must have there. Thanks to Blitzen Trapper for the tour.

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