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American Goldwing
Blitzen Trapper American Goldwing
Released 9 September 2011
Producer Eric Earley, Gregg Williams
Label Sub Pop
Length 37:38
Genre Alternative country
Website www.blitzentrapper.net

In the early ‘90s, for reasons unknown, Ireland was gripped by a rather embarrassing Country Music fever; Billy Ray Cyrus and Garth Brooks sold albums by the shed load while men and women all over the country poured themselves into their finest Wrangler jeans so they could take part in the cringe worthy trend that was Line Dancing. It was a relatively short lived fad but the consequences have been longer lasting; the tackiness of the pop version of country music made us a bit sceptical of the genre as a whole, which is perhaps why certain Alt Country acts haven’t since received the recognition or the exposure their music deserves. One such band is Blitzen Trapper, a group who despite receiving quite a lot of good press internationally remain virtually unknown on these shores. American Goldwing is the sixth album from the Oregon based sextet which may help erase the memory of the flannel and faux-leather atrocities of the ‘90s.

The big surprise on American Goldwing is that Blitzen Trapper have forgone their usual playful, experimental style in favour of a more classic Americana sound. The album is chock full of references to the major American rock bands of the last forty years; album openers 'Might Find It Cheap' and 'Fletcher' have all the southern swagger of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 'Taking It Easy Too Long' calls to mind the Eagles in song title and vibe while 'Girl In A Coat' and 'Stranger In A Strange Land' both bear an uncanny resemblance to Bob Dylan.

Replete with slide guitar, harmonica and close harmonies this is authentic Americana and it’s not a million miles away from the sound that got Blitzen Trapper to the six album mark but it feels like a small step backwards. Their talent is unquestionable and taken on its own merits this album is a winner but there is nothing here as innovative as the prog country of 'Destroyer of The Void' or as visceral as 'Black River Killer' so it’s hard not to feel a tad let down.

To any newcomers American Goldwing acts as a great introduction to Blitzen Trapper that showcases their immense songwriting talent. The long-term fans might be slightly more bewildered by the change in style but the songs have enough quality to stop them getting too pissed off. While I might have my reservations about the regression of their invention I don’t want to take away too much from what is still an enjoyable album and though it’s not their best release it still has enough moments to make it, on the whole, a success.

- Brian Kinsella