There is a point on the new Blitzen Trapper album Wild Mountain Nation where the singer repeatedly belts out “yea yea—yea” while a noodling guitar solo plays on top of a thump da-dump drum/ bass. This is the line drawn by Blitzen Trapper, Portland’s “cosmic fugue” rockers, where those who cross are either lost and annoyed or captivated by the strange madness. The song “Woof and Warp of the Quiet Giant“ comes across like a rally cry at an inbred yokel sock hop. It’s worth hearing.
Blitzen Trapper (B. Trapp for short) have been making music for some seven years now. Their sound might best be described as Pavement, The Boo Radleys, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Grateful Dead (in “Sugar Magnolia” mode) and Steely Dan (minus the insouciant pretension but plus a loose & dirty vibe) playing together in a psychedelic jug band: And though the jug broke no one seems to mind.
Wild Mountain Nation works as a demonstration of a band either finding or showing off its sound. It begins swathed in distortion and stabby guitars (“Devil’s A-Go-Go”) and through a pop-electro-prog journey it slowly works its way into beautiful country-picking folk ditties (“Country Caravan” and “Badger’s Black Brigade”).
I’m all for journeys, experimentation and flexing musical muscles, but I prefer B. Trapp when they ease into songs like they are playing around some camp fire in their mountain nation. For example, “Summer Town” sounds like an effortless gem that The Shins and The High Llamas would envy while “Badger’s Black Brigade” lilts along so delicately it’s like it materialized out of thin air and then goes back. More moments like this would be welcome.