Like Silly Putty and insect repellent, Missoula's Mountain Con evolved as a sort of happy accident. Fresh from the breakup of an earlier band called the Elements, singer/songwriter James Nugent was wasting his days putting Van Morrison songs to drum machines. Convinced he was on to something, Nugent got in touch with former bandmates Mike Watt and Pierre Ferguson and began the process of noodling and experimentation that has spawned every great idea. Thought flowed with the malt liquor and the three of them hit on the noble concept of combining the country music they had grown up with, with the urban growl and stomp of the hip-hop beats they were currently consumed by. Enter Erik Blood, a local DJ. Blood brought his background in electronica and his Technics 1200s. Another pal, Swede, a slide and steel guitar player was recruited, and suddenly Mountain Con roared to life, a unique blend of way-back-yonder twang and modern, urban white noise.
Their debut album, The MC Stands for Revolution, sounds like nothing else. Comparisons can be made to R.L. Burnside and Beck, and surely will be, considering that producer Tom Rothrock, he of "Loser" fame, helmed the board for the band. But comparisons, as usual, simply miss the point. While the graphics of the record lead one to expect some sort of political stance, and the naked sound of the disc echoes the macho chest thumping of gangsta rap or simple get-down boogie, the lyrics and delivery of vocalist Nugent force one to listen up and take things seriously. This is an erudite man with a self-deprecating blend of humor and pathos. References to Brian Wilson are dropped, but so are tangential nods to Walt Whitman. Upon further and closer listening, what sounds like a thumping, hissing roar is actually a carefully meshed stew of sound. Slide guitar slams against breakbeats and samples from sources like the Grateful Dead and "Honky Tonk Woman." Through it all, Ferguson's loping and sinister bass lines keep things moving ahead. This is roiling, dynamic music, more akin to B**ches Brew than anything Sublime ever thought of. It isn't often that one hears something totally unique, the sort of sound that might just start something big. This band doesn't fit into comfortable niches, even though critics have tagged the music with all sorts of clever aliases from hick-hop to strum and bass, to mountain funk. ~ Rob Ferrier