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Cosmic Egg

[Modular; 2009]

By ; October 19, 2009 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale leaves no room for misconceptions about his ‘70s-rock classicism. Where the Jack Whites of the world rewire the blues for their own minimalistic purposes, this Aussie outfit is a straight-up Classic Rock (capital letters) throwback. Wolfmother’s influences are pretty obvious: Zep, Sabbath, Deep Purple, early Rush, Cream, AC/DC. If you are someone who can’t get past a band wearing their influences on their sleeve, you should probably stop reading right now, because this band is not for you.

Stockdale may have a completely new cast backing up his Plant-meets-Ozzy wail on Cosmic Egg, but almost nothing has changed about the band’s sound since their self-titled 2006 debut, which spawned the rock-radio hits “Woman” and “Joker and the Thief.” Instead, the strides are made in the songwriting department. From the indelible hooks on “California Queen” and “New Moon Rising” to vintage-Sabbath guitar firepower of “10,000 Feet,” Stockdale and his new bandmates sound fully in control, mastering the sludge-rock idioms they used to ape.

Cosmic Egg comes front-loaded with short-and-sweet barnburners that would do AC/DC proud, but Wolfmother prove equally capable of pulling off the album’s final three songs, which explore the weirder areas of their ‘70s-rock fixation. “In the Castle” caters to the band’s psychedelic tendencies, while “Phoenix” and “Violence of the Sun” give them a chance to flex their prog muscle, blazing through time changes and tricky solos without breaking a sweat.

The most memorable song on the album, “Far Away,” is a rewrite of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today,” which is kind of fitting given that Billy Corgan started out with exactly the same classic-rock ambitions. But Corgan came of age when guitar rock was all the rage; now, with the alt-rock landscape trending strongly towards artier groups like Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, the kind of ‘70s pastiche that Wolfmother specializes in is suddenly a niche market. This is probably a good thing for them in the long run, as they won’t have to try to be all things to all people. Nobody will ever accuse Wolfmother of having too much originality, but as Guitar Hero and thousands of seventh graders in Dark Side of the Moon shirts prove year after year, there will always be an audience for this stuff, and Wolfmother are clearly ready to assume the role of modern-day standard bearers.


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