Music review: Wolfmother, Cosmic Egg

Posted: November 13, 2009 in Album Reviews

wolfmother

Wolfmother is a band behind its time, which isn’t really a bad thing. The Australian rockers seem to be stuck in a time warp, where the year is always 1971. They celebrate and mimic the sounds of classic rock legends like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath with huge riffs and the ever-present wail of frontman/guitarist/songwriter Andrew Stockdale.
The band’s second full-length album Cosmic Egg is a celebration of all things rock, and while they’re not incredibly original, they’re able to rock you just the same. And with a dearth of good rock bands these days, I’ll take a band that wishes it was opening for Jimi Hendrix.
The latest effort comes three years after the release of the band’s self-titled debut, and much has happened since then. Namely, Stockdale replaced the other members of the band with a completely new group, Axl Rose-style. You can’t really tell the difference because Stockdale is the star of the show, the band’s frontman and musical leader.
The band is tight, but the main difference between this record and the previous is a more consistent set of songs from Stockdale.
While the debut contained a couple memorable tracks like “Woman” and “Dimension,” it’s not a record I’ve revisted all too often.
From the opening bass-line of “California Queen” (which is somewhat reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Around the World), the album has very few lulls and is filled with memorable moments. “Queen” and lead single “New Moon Rising” both have the Zep meets Sabbath vibe to it, as Stockdale’s voice often sounds like a cross between Robert Plant and Ozzy Osbourne, with a dash of Jack White and John Lennon sprinkled in for good measure.
“White Feather” has an especially White Stripesish vibe, with Stockdale’s vocal phrasing often coming very close to White’s. “Sun Dial” is the only track I’d call an overt lift, as the riff sounds like Black Sabbath’s “NIB” as played by Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and the chorus sounds much like “NIB” as well. It’s still a rocking track, but incredibly derivative.
Wolfmother try to stretch out on the Beatlesque ballad “In the Morning,” and Stockdale sounds like the leader of a prog rock band in the other ballad “Far Away.” Think of Yes on steroids and you have a decent estimation of that track, which is the better of the two ballads.
The title track and “Pilgrim” are a few more strong rockers, with the second track sounding like a cross between Zeppelin and Oasis.
The most original and perhaps best song is the album’s final track, “Violence of the Sun.” It clocks in around six minutes, giving the album an epic closer. It’s a slow building song, with a haunting keyboard riff kicking it off, with guitars slowly building in the mix. Stockdale gives his vocals a nice workout on this one, building into a shriek as the instruments blend together for an impressive crescendo. It’s here where you get a glimpse of a band that may one day rise above the level of deft imitator and become an actual innovator, but for now we’ll have to accept Wolfmother for what it is: a kick-ass karaoke classic rock band.

The Sod rating: *** 1/2
Other Wolfmother release:
Wolfmother (2006) ** 1/2

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