Led by existential questions about life and death, Holy Smokes Future Jokes finds frontman/lyricist Eric Earley ruminating on the intermediate period between a person’s separate lives on earth, “and what it means to escape the cycle of birth and rebirth,” he explains.
The album was included in NPR’s New Music Friday notable releases for September 25, and has garnered critical acclaim:
"... their finest since 2010's Destroyer of the Void - sees them concentrating on what they do best: songs that sound like The Beatles at Big Pink, songs that sound like Dylan gone power pop." - (4 /5 Album Rating) -- MOJO
“…the head-scratching concepts go down easy for music that feels like a comforting warm breeze on a cool spring day.” -American Songwriter
“Seventeen years since its eponymous debut, Blitzen Trapper remains an innovative band well-versed on the Americana playbook, still offering distinct contributions.” -No Depression
“…experimental Americana brings with it plenty of good, melodic vibes, man, and the album will take you to a better place if you let it. Logic sometimes gets cosmic, you know.” -Magnet
“Blending country and folk with the vibe of 1970s Americana, the Portland-based ensemble returns for another trip into the wayback machine, conjuring soaring melodies and stirring styles of yesteryear.” -A.V. Club
“…the leader and spirit guide for psychedelic folk-rock wanderers Blitzen Trapper is humbled by the mystery of existence on Holy Smokes Future Jokes.” --Goldmine
Previously released album tracks include: “Magical Thinking,” which premiered at SPIN, who noted that it “features the delicate alt-folk that has become synonymous with the group”; “Masonic Temple Microdose #1” premiered at Consequence of Sound. Read more about the Origins of the song; Brooklyn Vegan premiered the video for “Dead Billie Jean,” noting “the title star of Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit -- not to mention a few dead rock stars -- into the heady psychedelic universe of this album;” while FLOOD premiered “Requiem” touting “the group uses country music as a vessel for persistence through difficult times” and The Bluegrass Situation premiered “Hazy Morning.”
Recorded at Long Play Recording in Portland, OR, Holy Smokes Future Jokes takes the listener on a wild and dramatic journey through the Bardo, that transitional state between death and rebirth. With an inherent otherworldliness in the lyrics and imagery, the album’s ten songs take inspiration from several works, notably George Saunders’ 2017 Lincoln in the Bardo, which led to Bardo Thodol, more commonly known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Produced and engineered by Raymond Richards, who also contributes upright bass/keys/pedal steel, Blitzen Trapper was joined in-studio by Michael Blake (keys), Luke Price (fiddle), Ben Latimer (saxophone), Heather Woods Broderick (backing vocals), and Haley Johnsen (backing vocals).
Over a 20-year career and ten full-length albums, Eric Earley has written, recorded and toured extensively as Blitzen Trapper, amassing a devoted fanbase and earning critical praise from a vast array of media that includes The New York Times, NPR Music, Rolling Stone Country, Paste, Pitchfork, SPIN, New York Magazine and Consequence of Sound.