With blatant Black Sabbath riffage and Rush-like song structures, Wolfmother were, and still are, full-on retro-metal revivalists. So why does their music somehow feel fresh? We were asking ourselves this question last night as we soaked in their new record, Cosmic Egg, in its entirety during a listening event at the Lazerium Theatre in Hollywood (an experience shockingly lacking in flashbacks). The answer: They're one of the few bands right now still trying to make us bang our heads in a non-ironic way. And they succeed.
Though the Australian group has seen a line-up change (frontman Andrew Stockdale is the only remaining original member), its new one shows it still has both the chops and charming reverence for rock's monsters and masters, which is what got it noticed in the first place. Those who enjoyed the eponymous debut know it was more nuanced than the testorock wail of the hit, “Woman” might have suggested. Stockdale, who was present for the listening, still has that famous fro too, though it looks as though he tamed a bit.
The new material is anything but tame, and while enhanced by the psychedelic, dancing lights of Lazerium (not nearly as exciting as they were when we were a kid watching them float inside the giant dome of the Griffith Observatory), we can tell these songs will stand alone, though surely, they will be listened to in similarly trippy environs (think black-lit, poster-covered bedroom filled with bong smoke).
Songs like “New Moon Rising,” “Far Away” and “Phoenix,” channel the requisite mysticism of the genre (some of the lyrics and titles are sooo Led Zep, and don't even get us started on the ELO/Journey/Styx-ish album cover), and while that's always a slippery slope, it comes off as fervent and real here. According to a record exec's intro to the show, Stockdale's dealt with a whole lotta Wolfy tumult before making this disc, hence the new line-up. Maybe getting spiritual/new-agey helped the process. The “cosmic egg” is a yoga pose, after all.
We especially enjoyed the slower tempo stuff, where the singer shows a less screamy/more dreamy side, letting his vox marinate and marry the music, making for a lovely and potent, almost glam rock ebullience.
Must have been cool for Stockdale to see his new opus set to a lazer show. And while it was a fitting coupling, we wonder if we would have been more inspired by Lazerium's actual lights if we had gone on one of its regular nights, when the show is set to the music of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Pink Floyd? Think we'll go back and find out, and this time, maybe we'll do a little something to help those flashbacks along.
Wolfmother's Cosmic Egg comes out on October 13.
They shake up KROQ's Epicenter '09 Fest at The Fairplex in Pomona, on Aug. 22.