Monday, August 20, 2007

Blitzen Trapper: Wild Mountain Nation review

Wild Mountain Nation
Blitzen Trapper
June 12th

Ah…Portland, Oregon. They must be sweating bullets up there by now. They’ve consistently provided us with quality, cutting-edge bands like the Dandy Warhols, the Decemberists, the Shins, and Elliot Smith. How the hell do they intend to follow all of that? The pressure must be unbearable.

Enter Wild Mountain Nation, the third album by Blitzen Trapper, an utterly schizophrenic sextet from that vibrant Pacific Northwest musical hub. Imagine Frank Zappa beating the piss out of Badfinger with a fossilized Lynyrd Skynyrd box set, and you might, after countless hours of meditation (or counseling), begin to understand what exactly these guys sound like. They define unclassifiable and, like that last statement, are a mischievous (and sometimes confounding) paradox.

The distinct garage vibe of “Devil’s A-Go-Go” opens up the album with its frenetic George Harrison licks and off-kilter drumming. From there, it slides right into the title track, a gloriously catchy pseudo-Southern rock number with a Boston-smooth guitar riff, and the unabashedly poppy “Futures and Follies” will have you wondering if these dudes managed to channel the spirits of Let It Be-era John and Paul.

From there, it only gets weirder. Just when you think you have them pegged, they bust out the fuzz rock with “Miss Spiritual Tramp,” watch Godzilla stage an epic battle with Mothra on “Woof and Warp of the Quiet Giant’s Hem,” and even throw in a quiet, surprisingly calming ballad in “Summer Town.”

Blitzen Trapper literally has something for everyone, from Blue Cheer heaviness, to American Beauty-style Grateful Dead. Whether you can handle everything being mashed up into one massive musical speedball is the only question. Regardless, every song is a head-banger, a foot-tapper, or at least an eyebrow-raiser. Don’t miss out.

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