We don’t half get a rough deal over here in the UK release wise. Example; The Decemberists released the wonderful Crane Wife in the States back in October last year. When did we see it on our shelves? Bloody February. Same thing happened with The Hold Steady’s latest. So, by now, all you hip indie kids out there will have already have heard the new Blitzen Trapper LP Wild Mountain Nation, it’s been out since early summer and received “rave reviews” from every tastemaker under the sun. So, what’s the point in yet another review I hear you ask? Well, up until two weeks ago I didn’t even know this album existed. It was only when it landed on my doorstep with a press sheet attached saying “the most satisfying indie release of the year” that my interest was sparked. We all love “satisfying” records don’t we? So I figure there must be more of you out there who have never heard of Blitzen Trapper. Allow me to give you the low down…
Blitzen Trapper are what you could call a DIY band. You know, like Pavement were. Call it Lo-Fi if you will, it doesn’t really matter. Formed in 2000 the six piece have previously released two albums. The eponymously titled debut and it’s follow up Field Rexx. Wild Mountain Nation is their first release for Sub Pop and sees the band clearly focused, delivering a short consise collection of 13 songs in just under 34 minutes. What it lacks for in length is more than made up in its depth and creativeness. It’s a record bubbling with ideas whilst it’s playful, ramshackle, feel seems instantly familiar. In places it harks back to the scratchy, ragged “alternative” country sound of Beck’s classic Odelay. But more often than not, it’s like a schizophrenic child who’s indulged in one too many E numbers. Album opener “The Devil’s A Go-Go” whizzes and pops around your head forcing uncontrolable convulsions (I think they call it dancing). Whilst “Miss Spiritual Tramp” acts as an updated “Devils Haircut” complete with a harmonica hoedown that Beck would be proud of. There are also moments of pastoral beauty too. “Summer Town” is a yearning acoustic led ballad, a breather from the chaos that surrounds the rest of the tracks. Especially “Woof & Warp Of The Quiet Giant’s Hem” with its metronomic tom tom’s, childlike “yeah yeah yeah’s” and major fret wankerage it acts like a kid’s spinning top that’s lost control. The whole album is a playful mix of styles but shot with such a gusto that you can’t help but be won over. And yes, to coin a phrase, it could well be “the most satisfying indie release of the year”.
Why? Wild Mountain Nation is an album that’s leaves any pretention at the door, an album that’s not reliant on the latest trends and sounds. Its an album created by people who love what they do, who feed off the ideas they have flowing through their heads. We should cherish bands like Blitzen Trapper. They’re a shining example of what indie music is all about. Nowadays, ‘indie’ is one giant pigeon-hole. A tag put on bands that have major label backing but are stripped of identity and substance; a mass market comodity – I’m looking at you Brandon fucking Flowers. This album is a startling wake up call to those who thought independant music was in the doldrums. What more can I say, just go out and buy the bloody thing.