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CD Review: Blitzen Trapper

The Black River Killer EP (Sub Pop)

If you ever get a chance to take a time machine back to the late '60s, bring Blitzen Trapper with you. The baby-boom generation would have embraced the Oregon folk-rockers with open arms. Eric Earley, the band's singer and songwriter, loves Neil Young, bluegrass and songs about nature. He mixes the road-weary inflections of Bob Dylan with — fast forward to the '80s — Tom Petty's nasal drawl and rootsy grit. The Black River Killer EP feels like a long-lost part of old vinyl collections, full of sprawling American rock songs and gentle ballads. Blitzen Trapper have sold several of these songs on a CD-R at live shows, but now they're making them more widely available as they work on the follow-up to last year's Furr. The title track opens the EP with ominous synths, crawling guitars and Earley's tale of a psychopathic murderer — the harmonica-heavy "Silver Moon" kicks up the drums for a road-trip-worthy tune, and "Shoulder Full of You" sets the mood for seduction. Black River Killer is short and sweet — a great bunch of songs from a band that's only getting better. — Sills

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