Recession-era rock goes back-to-the-backwoods or rises from the rusty dust
The four-eyed Minotaur on the cover of Destroyer replaces the spectral Bigfoot skulking through Wild Mountain Nation's underbrush and the changeling wolf-boy in the title track of Furr (Sub Pop, 2008). In the opening title track, this Destroyer stalks a spaghetti southwestern dreamscape awash with rolling stones, wayward sons, and other rock 'n' roll archetypes, pieced out with harmonies more akin to "Bohemian Rhapsody" than "Good Vibrations." Is this a rustic-rock mini-opera variant on the Who's "A Quick One, While He's Away"? Instead, Blitzen Trapper appears intent on chasing away yawning distractions, the enemy of imagination — bounding over Rockpile hill and dale on "Laughing Lover," fluttering after acoustic-guitar-glittered butterflies in "Below the Hurricane," then finally settling down for a tale about "The Man Who Would Speak True," a protagonist who destroys all who listen with his terrible honesty.
Does this fear point to why Blitzen Trapper prefers to take refuge in a lush, obfuscating thicket of folk tales, rock 'n' roll tropes, and unexpected sonic switchbacks? Truth is feared, and healing sanctuary can found in the natural order. No wonder Blitzen Trapper treats its windy musical changes — the roaring fuzz-guitar-and-B-3 overture of "Love and Hate," the dying trees and elegiac piano and strings of "Heaven and Earth," and the minor-chord yet blissfully sweet "Dragon's Song" — as mysterious, unchanging, and impossible to tame.
"Sadie, I can never change," wails Earley, in a feather-light tip of a cap to "Free Bird"'s "This bird you cannot change/Lord knows I can't change." It's a slight, very specific turnaround from the proud, loaded declaration of independence hammered out with such lyricism by Skynyrd: Blitzen Trapper stands its ground in fertile soil, part Mississippi Delta and "The Weight," part A Night at the Opera and Village Green Preservation Society, its melodies — and heart — ever unresolved, its notions semi-nonsensical and wild-eyed.
With the Moondoggies
Wed/30, 9 p.m., $20
1805 Geary, SF
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