Blitzen Trapper, American Goldwing
Veering off from more familiar folk alleyways, Portland, Ore.-based Blitzen Trapper drives a sonic muscle car onto the rock music highway with their sixth studio album, American Goldwing. It’s an unabashed throwback to the band’s early influences—Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, Joe Walsh and the Rolling Stones’ country divergence. It’s a honky-tonk hayride filled with wailing harmonica, thick guitar licks, gut-thumping rhythms and some finer melodic instrumentation from banjo and pedal steel. The album’s backbone is its strong alt-country leanings—aided by producer Tchad Blake (The Black Keys, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders)—biting honesty and catchy choruses.
While American Goldwing is anthemic and rollicking, there’s still frontman/guitarist Eric Earley’s fine-tuned attention to storytelling. On what initially started out as a solo album, he takes a more personal lyrical journey than previous albums, wearing his heart on a 10-gallon hat with lonesome songs like “Love the Way You Walk Away” and “Girl in a Coat.” However, good-times rock-out “Street Fighting Sun” and old boy ballad “Fletcher” give the disc an upbeat spin. With Earley’s wildy vivid imagination in full force, it’s hard not to postulate that he’ll soon pen a novel of prose like his singer-songwriter contemporaries Josh Ritter and Willy Vlautin. Sub Pop, Sept. 13 (Austen Diamond)
The Rapture, In the Grace of Your Love
The Rapture has come, and it’s six weeks before American Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping’s revised Oct. 21 prediction. Five years since The Rapture’s last album, their latest, In the Grace of Your Love, signifies some noteworthy new developments for the New York City-based three-piece. They have returned from Universal to work with their original label, DFA—a consummate pairing of artist and label. The deep, personal connection in many of the lyrics is a departure from the carefree quality of earlier efforts. And the album’s soundscapes emerge unscathed, considering the alteration their lineup has undergone recently; bassist Matt Safer is no longer with the band. Don’t worry, though, these changes don’t diverge from The Rapture that fans have come to know and love.
In a recent interview with Pitchfork, drummer Vito Roccoforte says, “With this record, we got back to one of the original goals of the band, which was to not be etched-in by a certain sound.” With nearly every track’s transition, In the Grace of Your Love continually slips out of the enclosures the band is often put in, like “dance-punk,” “acid house” and “indie-dance-rock.” The celebratory “How Deep is Your Love?” and the Talking Heads-y title track, and everything in between, balance fun without sacrificing substance. The compilation ends with the playful “It Takes Time To Be a Man,” concluding an eclectic listener experience that doesn’t feel scattered or messy. DFA, Sept. 6 (Jordan Wallis)