Blitzen Trapper is one of those bands that at first listen, you're wondering who they are. I heard them being played at the local record store in Seattle (they're from Portland) and thought they had changed albums about halfway through. Apparently, their style is very different from song to song. This is a good thing, veering from monotony into unique blends of rock, folk, pop, and country.
The album begins with "Devil's a Go-Go", a straight up rocker with some nice changes throughout. This one leans more towards the straight up garage rock. Track 2 is the title track and is the most obvious single, with some nice country-tinged guitars and Led Zeppelinish vocals. This is a nice throwback and sounds amazing and surprising to be released in 2007. Maybe there is hope for rock (and roll). "Futures and Folly" dramatically changes gears, sounding like Paul McCartney/Beatles on I'll Follow the Sun or I'm Looking Thru You. "Miss Spiritual Tramp" again brings in the guitar fuzz, sounding like a Pavement/Zeppelin hybrid in my opinion. Not much melody but the guitar works nicely with the start/stop vocals. "Woof & Warp..." could've been pulled directly off of Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd, and is a nice tripped out instrumental.
"Sci-Fi Kid" gets back into the true musical form, with a great start and upbeat vocal/guitar/drum, with some nice lead throughout. This is a standout track, and is wholly Blitzen Trapper's style. Try to pin down the inspirations and so many come to mind that it must be something new and refreshing. "Wild Mountain Jam" is a 1:05 country intermission jingle and is a nice place marker for the album.
"Hot Tip/Tough Club" again shifts genres/gears and is a bonafide piece of psychedelia, complete with effected vocals, synths plodding along in the background, drums blaring, guitars distorting. Songs like this make it very hard to identify this band. This is the song that made me think the store put on a different record. Truly amazing for a band to have so many different styles and creativity within them, and are virtually unknown. "The Green King Sings" starts with some Pavement/Guided By Voices-ish/early Flaming Lips jamming, although I may not be familiar enough with GBV to make that claim. Not my favorite track. "Summer Town" is a straight up pop ballad, with smooth crooning vocals. Reminds of me of David Gilmour's early works with Pink Floyd, but it truly is its own song.
"Murder Babe" comes in and sounds like what I think Blitzen Trapper are at their core. Nice guitar work, recalling the first 2 tracks on the album. Make sure you listen to this track all the way thru because the best is in the last 30 seconds. "Country Caravan" returns to the smooth, country/indie/pop blend and is beautifully constructed throughout. Songs like these last 2 make me think that there's much more going on here that I am aware of. This warrants repeated listens. I'm hearing Wilco/Yankee Hotel Foxtrot here. "Badger's Black Brigade" closes the album with some slowly pounding drums, slide guitar, & harmonica.
At the end of Wild Mountain Nation you're left wondering who these people are and how did they pull this off. It's kind of like a Flaming Lips album, where you can't believe that someone actually made and produced the eclectic sounds you've just heard, but unlike the Lips in style, drawing on many other inspirations and decades, a true ode to rock, country, and this thing we love called music. A must have album for me.