One of the best things for a music fan is finding an album that comes totally out of left field and just knocks your socks off. For me, Wild Mountain Nation has been that album. Blitzen Trapper is an experimental rock band with a multitude of stylistic shifts contained in this album’s 34 minutes; the band revels in throwing curveballs at every turn. It’s got so much going on that the trip can be exhausting. However, even if the wild ride proves too jarring, there are qualities that can make this a useful album for discussions about music today.
For instance, if a friend ever gives you a hard time about rock music being too predictable nowadays, that there’s nothing new, play them this album. It’s innovative enough to definitively prove them wrong. It utilizes elements of classic rock, math rock, country, metal, noise, eletronica and bluegrass in its base. You could split at least one track off this album and give it to a fan of each of those styles, and they’d think you’d discovered some great new artist.
They’d be right, but then they might hate most of the rest of the album.
This is an album that shows that the distance between classic rock and indie rock isn’t as great as you may think. While the transitions can be interesting, the vibe of the album’s listening experience is never thrown too far out of whack, and these styles actually sit next to one another comfortably.
With the backbones of prior generations of modern music so well defined, music fans today grow up with the products of certified legends like Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Motown, etc., and they can (and often do) throw them all onto an iPod and hit shuffle. Fusion of style is a natural byproduct of this process, and interesting juxtapositions such as those contained in Wild Mountain Nation are the end result. Of course, one could argue that Kid Rock is another example of this result, so…you win some, you lose some.
The diveristy of styles on Wild Mountain Nation may be labeled a gimmick, but that would only be true if the band didn’t pull them off successfully. There are few truly weak songs on this album and a lot of flat-out great ones.
The jumping in and out of styles, and variety of sounds, makes this record a wild ride when listened to as a whole, which, to me, is a great way to make the “album” relevant in today’s singles-dominated landscape. The positive reaction to this album got the band picked up by Sub Pop, and I, for one, am very interested to hear what they’ll come up with next.
MySpace: Blitzen Trapper.