BLITZEN TRAPPER | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Most of the key elements in this Portland sextet's spazzy approach--Grateful Dead-style Americana, Elephant 6 pep pop, sharp harmonies--were present on their last album, 2004's Field Rexx. But on the irresistible new Wild Mountain Nation (LidKerCow) they turn what was merely an ambitious hodgepodge of sound into something coherent yet explosive, delivered with schizoid glee. The album opens at full strength with "Devil's A-Go-Go": splintered beats lurch in and out of sync and screaming guitar licks accelerate and brake without warning, but a hooky melody stitches the chaos into one of the wiggiest tunes I've heard this year. From there it loses only a little steam: the rambling twang of the title track gets pushed around by outsize drums and more jacked-up riffs, and even if the straighter material isn't quite as arresting, it's hard to deny the Shins-esque craft behind the pretty "Futures & Folly." The indie-rock scene's never felt so stale to me as it has lately, but this record proves there's life in it yet. Big Buildings headline. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8. --Peter Margasak.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →