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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Wolfmother
Wolfmother
Modular Recordings

Rating: 6.5/10 ?


June 28, 2006
Seems like every noted band from bygone decades is getting their time in the sun again. Velvet Underground, Gang of Four, Television, Talking Heads, the list goes on - and clearly illustrates the cyclical nature of music. So when the Darkness raised Queen, it was only a matter of time before a Styx resuscitation, even though they are still a "working" band (on the casino circuit, at least). Thanks to Australia's Wolfmother, the grand illusion continues.

These retro dudes from down under might prefer you to think heavier, with their metal-tinged name (hot on the heals of the "wolf" naming craze), 70's album art, and song titles such as "White Unicorn" and "Where Eagles have Been". But this is no Queens Of The Stone Age, and there is none of the menacing energy of Josh Homme. There is not one shred of threat on Wolfmother's eponymous debut. Sounding mostly like Jack White singing through Dennis De Young, with an occasional Ozzy thrown in for good measure, lead singer Andrew Stockdale sets the tone as the album opens with a scream pulled straight out of Spinal Tap, although to Stockdale's credit he is less grating and more versatile then fellow shrieker Justin Hawkins. The backing band consists of Chris Ross on keys and bass, and Myles Heskett on the drums. The pounding 4/4 beats may be derived from metal's heyday, but the prog-rock influence is never more than a weighty keyboard riff or flute (yes, flute) solo away.

The question Wolfmother begs to ask is: Can an album so unashamedly derivative be enjoyable? I belong to the school of thought that all music is derivative from previous artists, and thus the critical factor is what I'll call "original spin". If a band is talented enough, it will pay respect to its influences by using them only as a template for creating their own identity. Bands such as Interpol, Black Mountain, The Strokes all fall into this group. However, if a band is lacking in the quality arena, the result can be darn close to copyright infringement. I will call this "original sin" and I would put Wolfmother's countrymen Jet in this group.

Wolfmother trips right into the original spin category. Their strength lies in the fact that the threesome are capable rockers with conviction, and just enough irony to make it work. One doesn't get the feeling that they're trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, least of all their own. If you decide to go with their flow, the album's songs are quite enjoyable, with some real gems. "Woman" is headbanger-lite, and is basically about - you guessed it - a woman: "Woman/ You Know That You're a Woman/ You Got to be a Woman/ I Got the Feeling of Love." If you're looking for profound observations, Wolfmother might not be the album for you. "Apple Tree" is a blues heavy romp that nods heavily toward the White Stripes and has a killer bass line. "Love Train" (yes, that's the real title, I could not make this stuff up) starts out with a direct rip on George Michael's "Freedom" before collapsing into a infectious groove that will make you want to load the cassettes in the boom-box, turn the volume up to 11 and hit the beach.

While on the surface Wolfmother's retro-shtick might seem silly, somehow the band holds it together. No one ever expected bands like Queen or Styx to be profound or frightening, but they did write some great rock anthems that are still going strong today. And the fact they never tried to hide their transparency earns them respect as well. Wolfmother may really be a sheep in wolf's clothing, but finding out could be half the fun.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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