Over the course of four full-length records, Blitzen Trapper has managed to keep critics and fans guessing. So, it's not quite right to say the fifth record, "Destroyer of the Void," released on Sub Pop Records, came as a surprise.
No one should ever be surprised by a band that works as hard as Blitzen Trapper to keep its music fresh, different and interesting.
With a more acoustic focus, "Destroyer of the Void" is heavily rooted in English folk and makes forays into the same kind of fantastical prog-rock that some Britfolk groups of yesteryear explored. But it feels like less of a rock and roll record than its predecessors, though there are some rockier elements.
The Portland, Ore.-based band plays at Turner Hall Ballroom on Wednesday, July 28.
We talked to the group's frontman, songwriter and producer Eric Earley about "Destroyer of the Void" and what comes next.
OnMilwaukee.com: Some of the songs on the new record, especially the title track, are really complexly arranged. On those songs, had you worked all those arrangements out in advance?
Eric Earley: The title track was originally three different songs and the way the track ended up was really just a result of me experimenting in the studio and trying to create something conceptual in a way I haven't before.
OMC: Were you conscious of sequencing a record with dynamic highs and lows or did you focus on what each song needed and the results were simply fortuitous?
EE: I really do go song by song and don't give too much thought to the record as a whole, not till the sequencing starts. For me each song needs a certain presentation in order to make right in my own head.
OMC: I hear a lot of country and blues, but, of course, also a lot of the '70s British folk and prog rock scenes. Are these all sources of inspiration for you?
EE: Definitely, I listen to a lot different things, try alot of different things out depending on what I'm listening to at the time.
OMC: Are you conscious about trying to mix things up and keep things fresh and different or does it just come naturally?
EE: I really don't like to do the same thing twice, this record is really me experimenting with the studio and with genre which I guess is what I do most of the time, ultimately the songs themselves are what's important regardless of the treatment.
OMC: What can we expect from the next one? Have you written any of it yet?
EE: I've written and recorded most of the next record. This next record feels different, in ways simpler and more direct than "Destroyer." (It's) more of a personal group of songs.
Watch for OnMilwaukee.com this week for an interview with Blitzen Trapper's Sub Pop Records label mates Avi Buffalo, who also play the July 28 show at Turner Hall.
Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $12.
A couple other Turner shows to check out this week:
Minneapolis duo Peter Wof Crier plays Monday night (that's tonight!) at Turner Hall, opening for Heartless Bastards (read Josh Miller's piece on that band here).
I'm really digging, "Inter-Be," the group's debut, released back in May on Jagjaguwar.
Although Peter Wolf Crier (is this indie's first nod at the J. Geils Band?!) doesn't sound all that much like Flaming Lips, the group has a similar approach to sugary sweet pop melodies, swaddling them in unusual arrangements without ever obscuring the beauty.
Cali singer, songwriter and producer Greg Laswell also plays at Turner -- with Cary Brothers -- on Thursday, July 29, as part of the tour in support of "Take a Bow," his third full-length record for Vanguard and fourth overall.
Brothers and Ingrid Michaelson, among others, guest on the record, which is a mix of well-crafted pop (think Ron Sexsmith) doused with chiming guitars and warm production.
Although the record feels controlled, if Laswell gets a little looser on stage, the show could be very satisfying.
Showtime is 8 p.m. and it's a $10 show.
When Bruce Springsteen signed his first record deal, many proclaimed him as "the next Dylan." When John Eddie relocated from Virginia to New Jersey in the mid-80s, taking up weekly residency at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park, he was declared "the next Springsteen." Though he has developed a loyal audience and gained great notices from critics over the years as a "next big thing" star, Eddie never reached the dizzying heights of popularity that were predicted for him. But his mix of country, soul, rockabilly and folk -- documented on his first Lost Highway release "Who the Hell is John Eddie?" -- still resonates. He plays at Friday night gig at Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave. Local singer-songwriter Jim Hoehn, a recovering sportswriter with a flair for intelligent lyrics and tropical themes, opens the show. Hoehn has opened for Warren Zevon, Jerry Jeff Walker, Robert Earl Keen, Don McLean and others, so this should be a pretty good night for drinking in beers and appreciating songwriting. Admission is $15. --Drew Olson
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.