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+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
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+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
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+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
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+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
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+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
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Blitzen Trapper
Field Rexx

Portland, Oregon has always boasted a fine music scene. But, except for artists like Sleater-Kinney and the late Elliott Smith, rarely are its major contenders heard outside of our little puddletown.

True, Portland isn't alone here; such is the case for a host of cities across the nation. But given that Portland is such a creative, cultural and liberal mecca, one wonders why more of our artists aren't screaming louder. Given that I've been here my entire life, I'm pretty sure I've got the answer: Oregonians are passive. Very, very passive.

We're so passive, we can't even merge onto a freeway. No, no, you go ahead, we say to the angry, honking Californian, waving them on the same way Stumptown musicians duck the spotlight, feeling undeserving, and leaving it to shine elsewhere. And the result? A surprisingly talented bunch of unassuming artists more concerned with their creative journey than their destination. Prime example: the very talented Blitzen Trapper.

But Blitzen Trapper have more than talent alone. They have this quirky knack for merging traditionally non-mergeable sounds and making it work. And well! They cross country twang with spacey electronics, classic indie rock vocals (think Stephen Malkmus meets Isaac Brock) with R&B grooves. With a punk-rock sort of defiance to rules, Blitzen Trapper have stumbled upon an inventive way to make indie rock interesting again.

Opening rocker "Lux & Royal Shopper" most recalls early Modest Mouse for its square, stop-start rhythms and Brock-ish proclamations, while the dreamy "Summer Twin" features chiming guitars, ethereal coos and ballad-y melodies. Infiltrated by old-school dance beats, the one-and-half-minute-long "Love I Exclaim!" features distant raw guitar squiggles and distorted vocals claiming, and rightfully so, "Love brings the body down." The rhythm lines on the chugging, oddball "Cold Gold Diamond" stamp like a kindergartner learning to count as the tempos move between lazy and speedy. The emotional, touching "Asleep for Days" is colored with the haze of the steel guitar and trickling keys, while the aptly-titled "Dirty Pearls" is a raw, gritty Delta get-down you'd have once expected to hear on some Mississippi back porch.

Finding a band as great, and as unknown, as Blitzen Trapper makes you wonder what other diamonds we're hiding in our rain-soaked rough. Stay tuned, I'll keep you posted. Just don't tell too many folk — we're a little shy out here in Oregun (not Ore-gone).

by Jenny Tatone

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