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Blitzen Trapper Enjoying "Slow-Burn" Success

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2009

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Marty Marquis calls the success of Blitzen Trapper’s fourth album “a slow-burn kind of thing.” Right now, however, the Portland sextet is pretty much on fi re.

Released last fall, “Furr” was No. 13 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 2008’s best albums, and placed high on a number of similar polls. The title track also made Rolling Stone’s best singles list, and while multi-instrumentalist Marquis was “surprised to see it so high up in big media outlets,” the attention only supports his own feelings about the band and its music.

“I’ve always thought Blitzen Trapper were the best of the year, whenever we put something out, so it’s nice to see other people feel that way,” Marquis, 34, says with a laugh. “I think Blitzen Trapper’s music is for everybody. I feel like if ‘Furr’ as a record can reach a broader audience, then everybody will win.”

In the wake of “Furr’s” reception — “People are coming to the shows who like to sing along, not just hipster, cutting-edge people,” Marquis notes — the group is finding itself analyzed and defined more than ever. Most descriptions hone in on the folk elements that are an obvious part of Blitzen Trapper’s idiosyncratic sonic mix, and Marquis acknowledges that the band likes to “challenge our fans with the music.”

But that, he feels, just makes Blitzen Trapper — which is five songs “and about 15 ideas” into its next album — that much harder to define.

“It’s like trying to define what Led Zeppelin was,” Marquis explains. “To me, Led Zeppelin is the greatest rock band this side of the Beatles, but a lot of what they dabbled in was really folky stuff. Rock encompasses all kinds of things.

“I guess I just don’t put a whole lot of importance on the labels people throw around. If people want to think about us as folk music, that’s fine. But I always think of us as a rock band. It’s rock music, American music. There are elements of folk and country in there, but I always think of us as a rock band.”

Blitzen Trapper and Alela Diane perform Friday (Feb. 20) at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12. Call (313) 833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.

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