It's hard not to like Blitzen Trapper, and this new EP just reinforces why last year's album Furr deserves a place in your record collection.
'Black River Killer' featured on that album, and the accompanying six songs here span Blitzen Trapper's 9-year career. Previously only available on CDs at gigs, these tracks provide a great retrospective of rare tracks and are a great introduction to the band.
It's a shame that Blitzen Trapper hasn't reached the recent heights of success seen by similar artists like the Fleet Foxes. Support slots with the likes of Wilco this summer might help to change that, because Blitzen Trapper's material is more instantly accessible than some of their contemporaries.
Fusing pop sensibilities, vocal harmonies and an appreciation of folk rock is more difficult than it seems. The Black River Killer EP is in equal parts quirky, melancholy and uplifting. That's quite an achievement for 7 songs that only clock in at just over 17 minutes.
The title track is in many ways reminiscent of Johnny Cash songs such as 'Folsom Prison Blues'. Expect in the case of the 'Black River Killer', he "killed the first man that I came upon/'Cause the devil works quick/You know it don't take long". Dark and menacing, the lyric unfolds over an up-tempo guitar melody that almost signifies the killer's apart lack of remorse. The suggestion is that the protagonist could actually be the Devil himself, but you'll have to make your own mind up on that one.
Elsewhere songs like 'Silver Moon' and 'Preacher's Sister's Boy' have a great breezy sound with catchy lyrics. These are the type of songs you could have imagined Elliott Smith writing. Blitzen Trapper's career is a shining example of why sometimes persistence pays off.
Building a fan base with self-released material early on the band have subsequently signed to Sub Pop and are slowly receiving the attention they deserve. With songs that sound this good there's no excuse not to investigate further. The Black River Killer EP is therefore possibly the best introduction you could ask for to the quirky and sometimes disturbing world of Blitzen Trapper.