Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper

It is fitting that ten seconds into Blitzen Trapper's fifth full-length record, front man Eric Earley utters that most sacred of rock 'n' roll tropes: "For to love is to leave or to run like a rollin' stone," he sings in the harmonized verse that leads off the album's epic title track, "Destroyer of the Void." As is the case with just about every musician or band that has employed the Blues' greatest simile, Blitzen Trapper is unabashed in its embrace of tradition.

Over the course of their four full-lengths albums to date, including their revelatory 2008 Sub Pop release Furr, the Portland band has already made that much clear. And, Earley's considerable poetic talents and his band's hard-earned chops have gained them a growing international audience. This fifth album, Destroyer of the Void, takes Blitzen Trapper one step further, building on the band's seamless marriage of the familiar and the fantastic to, literally, create an otherworldly experience.

But there is more to Blitzen Trapper than those traditions. More than anything, the band credits its music to its Pacific Northwest home. It is there that the six members came together ten years ago and formed a creative cauldron from which would emerge numerous novels, a locally-celebrated play based on the film Manos: The Hands of Fate, innumerable art projects and, of course, a flood of fantastical songs. Destroyer of the Void is only the latest work to emerge from this world, but it is one where their musical community is on full display.

The heart of Destroyer of the Void, though, is still found in Earley's meticulous songwriting. Here he is firmly in storyteller mode, expanding on the mythical world he created on Furr. That album introduced listeners to a ragged but beautiful world populated by mysterious killers, anthropomorphic narrators and benevolent women living in watery ways. Here, those characters are joined by a wandering tailor, a black-eyed lover, a flower-tongued balladeer and, of course, a host of lost lovers rolling along the road of life to a truly original American soundtrack.

Her first stage performance came in a suburban Denver bar, where, at the tender age of 12, she played drums behind a bunch of bluesmen on open mic night. She first picked up the sticks in junior high band class, after bumrushing the kit to show the percussion students how to play. And her earliest instrument was saxophone, though she busted her own reeds to keep from practicing.

Unorthodox beginnings surely, but Cahoone has often plotted an unorthodox route on the way to Only As the Day Is Long, her quiet, country-noirish second album and Sub Pop debut, out March 18.

That path has also included a notable tenure as drummer for rock outfit and Sub Pop labelmates, Band of Horses (she plays on their acclaimed 2006 album, Everything All The Time), as well as a stint for the late indie band Carissa's Weird.

But in 2006, Cahoone decided to step out from the cymbals and snare and focus on singing, songwriting, and guitar playing, skills she'd been honing for nearly 15 years on her own.

"You can't really write songs on the drums," says Cahoone, who's lived in Seattle for the past decade. "I needed to find something to get my creativity out."

Now on Only As The Day Is Long, the airy gentleness of the arrangements is counterweighted by tension in the lyrics. "I know I'm safe for now, but I know the rest is on its way," she sings on the title song. Time and again, characters mired in the present cast either skeptical or hopeful eyes on the future: "It's got to get better than this" ("Runnin' Your Way"), "I wish this night would pass on by" ("Shitty Hotel"), "Time's been moving too fast" ("You're Not Broken").

"I go to a darker, sad place when I write," she says. "For some reason, that's the way my songs always seem to come out. But I'm not a very sad person, really."

Sad, no. Risky yes. (Perhaps it comes in part from having a father who sold dynamite for a living -- which must've meant great Fourth of July celebrations, right? "I'm not supposed to talk about that," Cahoone says.) She's the kind of woman who as a teenager could nail Slayer covers on her drumkit and nail vertical drops on her snowboard.

As it happens, the stage is where she found her calling, something she knew even as a 12-year-old, backing up strangers in a bar. "It opened my eyes," she said. "I thought, 'This is amazing. This is what I want.'"

$15.00 - $18.00

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Blitzen Trapper with Sera Cahoone

Monday, May 20 · Doors 9:00 PM / Show 10:00 PM at The Palace Lounge