In the early- to mid-'00s, more than at any other point in pop music history, it's completely acceptable to plunder the past for material. While no one would argue that Led Zeppelin wasn't inspired by (among other blues players) Howlin' Wolf, they at least brought their own unmistakable sound to the music -- but it's not unlikely that casual fans of Led Zeppelin would completely mistake much of the music of Wolfmother for actual Zeppelin songs. Singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale's vocals often express a spot-on interpretation of Jimmy Page (Mars Volta's howler Cedric Bixler-Zavala seems a close second inspiration for Stockdale), and that's just the first of a healthy list of Led Zeppelin references.
With a couple of EPs under its belt and steady touring over the past few years, this Austalian trio has evolved from a heavier sound earlier on that was a little more reminiscent of Black Sabbath. If this debut is any indication, the band has lightened up a little and become increasingly focused on a blues-heavy, dirty rock -- a logical synthesis of heavy metal, garage, and stoner rock. While the band is not immune to straight-ahead proto-punk burners like "Apple Tree," the majority of this record sounds like a fetishized imitation of the point where '70s blues-rock met prog rock (check the album cover for further explanation).
The upshot of all this is that, despite the shameless pilfering of its influences, Wolfmother does what it does really well. You remember, while listening to this album, what seemed so primal and amplified when Led Zeppelin made the blues really loud. This is gut-level music that taps a well of classic rock that bands have been coming back to by the hundreds over the last five years. As long as you don't think about it too much, it may not get better than this.
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About the reviewer
Cory O'Malley (DesignDude)
I'm a community manager at Lunch and think I know a thing or two about quirky industrial design, indie rock, lowbrow art, contemporary British authors, Mediterranean cuisine, chihuahuas -- pretty much … more
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