Why compile a wildly eclectic mix CD when you can create your own? That seems to be the guiding philosophy behind Portland, OR, sextet Blitzen Trapper. Wild Mountain Nation picks up where 2004's schizophrenic Field Rexx left off and offers a dizzying lo-fi psychedelic prog rock power pop alt-country indie rock jamfest (and that's just the first five songs). It's unlikely to win over any adherents of the "consistency is better" school of music appreciation. But if musical adventurousness and short attention spans are viewed as positive attributes, then these 13 short songs offer ample rewards. And if you don't like what you're hearing, just wait 30 seconds.
It's easy enough to play spot-the-influences -- the early-'70s cowboy stoner songs of the Grateful Dead and the New Riders of the Purple Sage, the mad, fractured pop of Syd Barrett and early Pink Floyd, the sonic squalls and feedback blasts of Pavement, the fragile weirdness and melodic sensibilities of the Flaming Lips. What is more remarkable is, for the most part, these disparate influences actually hang together as coherent songs. "Murder Babe" is typical -- a choice slab of Who- and Kinks-inspired power pop, complete with windmilling power chords, that morphs into a psychedelic prog rock freakout worthy of the Soft Machine. The title track and "Country Caravan" would have been worthy additions to Workingman's Dead or American Beauty, while "Woof & Warp of the Quiet Giant's Hem" mixes prime Lips-inspired indie rock with what sounds like a hippie marching band. It's all wildly imaginative, and frequently excellent. The wild mountain nation appears to be a wide-open territory, but most of it is worthy of extended exploration.