Milwaukee-based Trapper Schoepp and his band the Shades
(featuring his brother Tanner on bass, Jon Phillip on drums and Graham Hunt on
electric guitar) don’t do anything fancy on Run,
Engine, Run. They use the old alt.country template – mixing rock riffs and
country twang – but invigorate it with spirited playing and Schoepp’s tales of
The band’s twang/rock blend recalls the long-running No Depression-bred band, the Old 97’s.
In fact, Schoepp’s vocal timbre and cadence holds some similarities to Old 97’s
frontman Rhett Miller, and their loping country rock numbers like “I-94” and
“Cold Deck” could fit easily in an Old 97’s set. Some Old 97’s traces also
surface in the title track, but the propulsive tune is able to shake them as
Schoepp describes a roadtrip in his grandfather’s old Mercedes Benz.
Yet there is a raw, rockier feel to Schoepp and the Shades
music, marking them as being inspired by the Rolling Stones and the
Replacements, while the Old 97’s have tended to favor the Beatles. Big power chords ring out in “Wishing Well,”
helping to make it an album standout, and undoubtedly a live favorite too.
“Wednesday, My Dear” and “Pins and Needles” are two more tracks that resonate
as rousing rave-ups, while the scruffily romantic “To Have You Around” and the
fiddle-fueled prison tale “Twenty Odd Years” reveal the band’s more acoustic
and countrier side.
Throughout the disc, Trapper Schoepp displays a strong
lyrical sense. There is an evocative cinematic feel to the way he tells his
stories that roam from Wyoming to his native Wisconsin. He weaves
themes of searching and troubled relationships in with images of nature and
traveling into this set of songs. Although the shadows of their influences are
still slightly too present, the twenty-something Schoepp and his group have
fashioned a memorable, impressive album that mark them as a highly promising
band on the Americana
DOWNLOAD: “Wishing Well,” “Pins and Needles,” “To Have
You Around” MICHAEL BERICK