Wolfmother (10th Anniversary Edition)
(Universal Music Group)
When initially confronted with the self-titled soon-to-be-Grammy-winning debut from Australian import Wolfmother circa 2006, I quietly dismissed them as 'the next big thing' that I wouldn't enjoy. However, their shameless penchant for all things retro and retro-related and, most notably, the singles “White Unicorn” and “Mother” quickly gained an international audience, causing me to re-evaluate their Led Zeppelin-fueled audio menagerie. While I failed to find the same level of excitement for the ensuing Dimensions (2006) and Please Experience Wolfmother Live (2007) EPs or their long-overdue sophomore endeavor Cosmic Egg (2009) (the cataclysmic line-up changes that eventually ensued certainly didn't help) their inaugural offerings left a lasting impact on my overwhelmed psyche. Fortunately for all parties involved, the group has at long last released Wolfmother (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition),a two disc 'retro'spective that entirely chronicles their true origin.
On the brilliant Wolfmother (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2015), an expertly assembled two disc twenty-seven song collection of Neo-Psychedelia and Stoner-infused Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the swaggering, mosh-inducing “White Unicorn”, the thunderous cautionary tale “Woman” and the burgeoning metallic crunchiness of “Joker & The Thief”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Building upon a early airtight groove that showcases their quasi-reckless approach, the group's initial forays are intertwined with the Black Sabbath-meets-Psychedelia and Blues-inflected delivery they would become synonymous for. The resulting highly-combustible elixirs, while not necessarily groundbreaking and unarguably quite far from revolutionary, remain as deliciously taut reminders of the group's near-universal heralded as the saviors of Rock.
Continuing with a percolating fuzz tone of “Pyramid”, the clearly Beatles-influenced lament “Tales From The Forest Of Gnomes” (a.k.a. “Tales) and the curiously-titled albeit highly-effective “The Earth's Rotation Around The Sun”, the steadfast--to say the very least--combination of lead vocalist/lead guitarist Andrew Stockdale, bassist/keyboardist Chris Ross (Korean K-Pop icons 100%, the Sarah Kelly-led Good Heavens, The Slew) and drummer Myles Heskett (Dimensions, Love Train, Strange Dreams) steamroll ahead with an oft-sickening ease. Flexing their creative muscles for the first time on a 'widely public' basis, the group proffers their interpertation of the classic Hard Rock formant. Driving home each key focal point via a seamless, multi-dimensional barrage of soaring vocals, razor-sharp fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms, the group wastes little--if any--time establishing themselves as a genuine creative and commercial cause not to be ignored.
While obviously derivative of many aspects of the genre's truly-storied past (most notably the previously-mentioned Led Zeppelin), other standouts, including the ingenious “Joker & The Thief” demo “Not Goin' Home”, a rehearsal demo rendition of “Witchcraft” and an equally impressive 2006 liveversion of “Dimension” 'deliver' the proverbial 'goods' with an oddly efficient enthusiasm that belies the group's then-tender age. Fortified throughout by a second bonus disc of previously unreleased B-Sides, demos and live variations that further documents their tendency for unabashed lyrical and compositional wizardry. While the concept of a once-prominent group re-releasing their most celebrated works in a deluxe or expanded format is far from a new concept, what ultimately makes Wolfmother (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) worthy of such critical and commercial acclaim is an overall attention to detail that emphasizes only the very finest minutia of their rapport.
But are they really that derivative? Perhaps. But then again, that's not really the point. Even if you somehow still find yourself less than enthralled with the group's purported lack of originality, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire their ability to playing a major role in reviving what was at the time an arguably dying genre. Although it seems unlikely that the group recapture the proverbial 'fractured magic' that once propelled the mighty Wolfmother to the dizzying heights of international acclaim, the majority--if not all--of the undeniably memorable wares contained herein are seemingly guaranteed to leave both die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike only wanting for more. Needless to sat, if you've once again found yourself in search of a pure, unadulterated Hard Rock experience that is clearly reminiscent of the sonic glories of yore, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane counterirritant for whatever ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
New Crown (2014)
Cosmic Egg (2009)
Wolfmother (EP) (2004)
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