Punk rock and the indie movement it spawned are historically seen as an adverse reaction to the 1970’s easygoing brand of hippie rock and its prevalence on American radio. The popularity of this music hasn’t waned a bit as classic rock is still one of the go-to radio formats, but for new artists making this style of music the going has been anything but easy. Most have jumped on the Grateful Dead bandwagon and become a part of the jam band scene, and while many have built a healthy touring business, they are often dismissed as nostalgia acts and their new releases are largely dismissed by mainstream and indie publications.
By the end of the 90’s, the indie scene had grown softer (Belle & Sebastian, Death Cab for Cutie), so maybe it was only a matter of time before the 70’s sound found some acceptance in indie circles, and over the last five years or so many of its younger disciples have actually managed to cross over. Now these aren’t jam bands per se, they’re usually labeled southern rock, country rock, or folk rock, but they clearly take their cues from artists like the Dead, CSNY, Allman Brothers, Eagles, et al. The most successful has been My Morning Jacket, but other notable acts include Fleet Foxes, Midlake, The Avett Brothers, and Blitzen Trapper.
Blitzen Trapper just announced a new album and tour yesterday and released a new song, “Heaven and Earth” as a free download, which you can check out below. It’s a ballad, which makes sense since their biggest successes so far have been the singles “Black River Killer” and “Furr” (just about my favorite song of 2008), but don’t be fooled, these guys can rock too. Both of their last two albums, 2007’s Wild Mountain Nation and 2008’s Furr, are worth checking out if you’re craving that old school vibe.