Trapper Schoepp - Rangers Valentines (2016)
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Trapper Schoepp - Rangers Valentines (2016)

Artist: Trapper Schoepp
Title: Rangers & Valentines
Year Of Release: 2016
Label: Xtra Mile Recordings
Genre: Country, Folk, Blues Rock, Rock & Roll
Quality: 320 / FLAC (tracks.cue.log)
Total Time: 34:27
Total Size: 103 / 236 Mb
WebSite:

Tracklist:

1. Mono Pt. II (03:42)
2. Tornado Alley (03:27)
3. Ogallala (02:52)
4. Ballad Of Olof Johnson (04:24)
5. Talking Girlfriend Blues (03:23)
6. Settlin' Or Sleepin' Around (03:07)
7. Lost Cowboy (02:28)
8. For Jonny (03:26)
9. Don't Go (03:51)
10. Dream (03:47)

As a professional musician and proud student of the American songbook, Trapper Schoepp is acutely aware of clichés. That’s not to say he shuns them completely, of course, just that when he uses them he does so knowingly, and so he readily admits that his latest album, Rangers & Valentines, is founded on a big one. “They always say that songwriters who come off their first few years of touring are going to make their road album,” Schoepp says, “and yeah, this is a road album.”

Not that the songs are all literally about Schoepp’s experiences. Recorded after years on the road behind Run Engine Run, his 2012 album for the Los Angeles indie label SideOneDummy, Rangers & Valentines compiles stories about men and women “who are on the road and on the move,” Schoepp says. Along the way they endure chaos, war, natural disasters and other travails.

On the album’s first single, “Ballad Of Olof Johnson,” Schoepp sings of an ancestor who, according to family legend, was sidetracked on a wagon ride to the American West by a violent blizzard. To survive, the tale goes, he and his bride burrowed into a hole and lived underground for days. Other tales are less fantastical. On “For Jonny,” Schoepp sings of his drummer Jon Phillip’s very real experiences with addiction, painting a portrait of him on the road, trembling from withdrawal, longing to be back home in Milwaukee.

“It’s a varied listening experience but to me it feels cohesive, because the whole album is about how these different characters deal with their situations,” Schoepp says. “There’s a lot of interconnection between the stories and a lot of the same themes about people trying to preserver.”

Rangers & Valentines was recorded in Nashville with Schoepp’s band The Shades and producer Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs, who carries over some of the same vibrant pop sensibilities of his solo records. At just 10 songs long, the record is brisk and crisp, with many of its songs brightened by punchy horn injections à la the E Street Band. Schoepp cites Bruce Springsteen’s 1980 opus The River as an inspiration for the album’s varied sound, along with Wilco’s artistic breakthrough Being There.

“Obviously those are longer double albums, but I thought about those records a lot because of all their ups and down and all the extremes,” Schoepp says. “Each song is fun and different on those albums, but they all tie together … I know this might sound kind of abstract or goofy, but we wanted this album to be like the California of rock records, where the terrain and the climate is varied, but it’s all nonetheless part of something that stands on its own.”

As is often the case with Nashville, many guest musicians dropped by for the recordings, including The Hold Steady’s Steve Selvidge, Superdrag’s John Davis and, most notably perhaps, Marc Maron. The comedian podcaster had bumped into some of Schoepp’s bandmates at a Jewish deli, and when he learned they were recording, he offered to swing by and play some blues guitar.

“So he just showed up the next day,” Schoepp says. “He actually talked about it on his ‘WTF’ podcast—I think it’s the Ru Paul episode—and it’s pretty hilarious to hear his account of it. He ends by saying, ‘So Trapper Schoepp and the Shades, if you’re out there listening, I just want to tell you I’ll be really hurt if I don’t make the cut.’ And he did make the cut. He plays on the last song, ‘Dreams,’ which we made as kind of a Last Waltz-style musical go-around, with everybody playing. It’s kind of a nice, fun way to end the record.”



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