Artist: Trapper Schoepp Band
Album: A Change In the Weather
Genre: Alternative Folk/Pop
Sounds Like: U2, David Bowie's folky side, Arcade Fire
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
I teach high school, and I discourage my senior students from taking a year off before college unless absolutely necessary. The Trapper Schoepp Band started when the members were high school students, and although they are college-age now, I hope I’m not too irresponsible in suggesting that they might want to take a year to pursue their music. It’s that good.
The songs on A Change in The Weather are built upon a folk/acoustic template and then enriched with layers of violin, keys, percussion, and electric guitar. The songs are constructed with confidence – the band employs tension and release and within-song twists and turns with skill that belies their age.
The opening title track is set up by acoustic strumming that builds into lush power pop and a big chorus. The lilting “Running Away From the Day” is memorable for its juxtaposition of old-school folk harmonica and echoey, synth-like keyboard.
“Programmed” is infectious – Trapper’s Bowie-esque vocal, an upbeat-yet-defiant message, and a couple of cool tempo shifts before it dissolves into an ethereal instrumental section. “The Bridge” is another great number in this vein – it’s more straight-ahead rock and roll, but it has a reggae/ska/punk finish.
One might think the lyrics of a 19-year-old might be, well, juvenile, but Trapper pens some pretty good lines. The folky “It’s Six O’Clock, It’s Saturday” has some evocative images, and David Boigenzahn adds mournful guitar.
The band is indeed more than just Trapper (whose brother Tanner contributes drums, bass, and vocals), as demonstrated by the funky psychedelic blues of the instrumental “Jennings Original.”
“As Long As You’re Feeling Alright” is country bluesish – it sounds like a much more well-worn group, but still very authentic. And then the magnificent closer, “Falling Back,” grows from introspection into something anthemic and orchestral, largely due to Boigenzahn’s wall of guitar sound. And it's another good lyrical effort - this time effective minimalism.
These guys have a lot to look forward to, and I’ll admit – they make me feel old. The only current band I can compare the Trapper Schoepp Band to – sort of – is Arcade Fire. From my era (and even before) I hear U2 from the Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree years, and Bowie’s acoustic-based Ziggy Stardust tracks. And those are high, high compliments.