Blitzen Trapper: American Goldwing Album Review

Blitzen Trapper is a band whose sound continues to expand and evolve with every album it releases. American Goldwing is the group’s sixth studio album and has an earthy sound that fuses rock ’n’ roll, country, bluesy Southern rock — and a bit of folk.

The eclectic group of musicians that makes up this creative outfit are Eric Earley on guitar/vocals, Eric Menteer on guitar/keyboards, Michael VanPelt on bass, Marty Marquis on guitar/keyboards/vocals and Brian Adrian Koch on drums/vocals.

American Goldwing takes you on a journey through the dusty roads and highways of life with a reminiscing presence illuminated through storytelling lyrics, rock guitar, glimmers of guitar finger picking, blues harmonicas and rolling slide guitar — all of which evoke a sense of Americana.

On the band’s bio page, from its current label Sub Pop, Earley explains that his brother used to have a Honda Goldwing motorcycle they kept in their backyard. At one point, when Earley was a young kid, he got on his brother’s bike and pretended to race down the road and out of town. The bike fell over and pinned Earley’s leg beneath it. He says that writing American Goldwing felt like “being pinned beneath a giant motorcycle” and also “being trapped in a small town.”

The opening track, “Might Find It Cheap,” starts out with static-sounding rock guitars and then busts into a rolling, funky kind of jam that will have you nodding your head to the beat.

Harkening to that aforementioned escapism, on track 5, “My Home Town,” Earley sings the lyric, “Does a true heart change? Or does it stay the same? Think I’ll go on back from where I came.”  The song comes in with a swirling harmonica and a sound that would be comparable to Tom Petty with a hint of Wilco.

Two tracks that stand out for me are “Girl In A Coat” and “Astronaut.”

The first is a love song with a deeply felt ’60s and ’70s musical influence; it has a Dylan-esque edge to it. “Astronaut” intros with piano and then makes way for guitar and percussion, tying the song together in a wistful and breezy way.

Blitzen Trapper offers up a picturesque album with a storytelling appeal that often is found in country music. The band hones in on that imagery with finesse, creating a mini-novella with each song. The themes range from a final high school dance and good ole boys in the hills to the moment the one you love walks away.