Sunday, October 5, 2014

Review- Wolfmother/ New Crown

Wolfmother/ New Crown (self released, 2014)

Patience is a virtue. When Wolfmother released their new album exclusively on iTunes this spring I held off, hoping for a real factory pressed compact disc. The band finally announced LP and CD releases for sale exclusively on their website in August so I jumped on it. Six weeks later it finally arrived from Australia.

Wolfmother is a band that has had and lost it all. Their first album went gold within a year and their second showed them the cruel indifference of major record labels. High band member turnover and being left without a label resulted in this fully independently funded and released album. New Crown is the sound of a band who had the world and lost it, finding itself in a life and death struggle to get it back. Desperation breeds greatness.
I will be storing the CD in a case to prevent further scuffing of the disc.
Everything that made Wolfmother great is present on this new album. The production, and I use the word loosely, is a wonderful sloppy mess. The mix is off, drums are buried, bass is too loud or too quiet...I honestly enjoy the slapdash sound of this album. Wolfmother should let some producers who really know how to make good shitty sounding music have a crack at them. Greatness would ensue.

The song New Crown is too long and dull in the middle part. A producer applying a razor blade to the arrangement could have fixed that. Feelings is very Punkish. Wolfmother is not a Punk band. They studied at the altar of the elder gods, the Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, and Deep Purple. Punk was the antithesis of this. Once we destroyed the elder gods and Punk Rock made anyone a “Rock star” the world stopped believing in Rock and Roll. Think about it. People still worship the elder gods, but how many Rock bands over the past 35 years are on par with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or Led Zeppelin? The bar has been lowered so far that bands trip over it. Wolfmother always seemed to aim higher than this, and so this song was a disappointment to me, the weak link of an otherwise strong chain.

Tall Ships is a jam, one of those hypnotic things that accesses the part of your brain and makes you move without really wanting to. I call these types of songs snake charmer music. Plus any song that has an organ solo is tops in my book. Tangerine Dream is sweet. Layers upon layers upon layers of distortion. The name is obviously taken from the electronic music band, even if the sound is not. Record collectors looking for the mother of all challenges should track down the entire Tangerine Dream catalog like my friend did some twenty odd years ago. You will have a nervous breakdown trying to piece the complete catalog of over one hundred releases together.

Wolfmother's greatest strength has always been their ability to write songs and then heap tons of distortion on top of them. Underneath that wall of sound there are memorable, hummable tunes. So many bands miss this point when it should be the first thing that clicks for them. You can look cool or be faux-artsy but if you can't remember the song when you are walking down the street then the songs that you write aren't worth a shit.

I can hardly believe that it has been five years between albums. My daughter was a newborn when Cosmic Egg was released and entered kindergarten this fall, to give you a point of reference. I hope that she isn't entering middle school by the time the next one is released.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5

The OCD zone- The packaging is a card sleeve with a slit on the top and that's it. The CD comes out of it scratched and beat to Hell the very first time you pull it out, which is ridiculous. If bands insist on doing these cheap cost saves then I insist that you at least have a paper insert sleeve. CD buyers value their stuff as much as vinyl buyers do. I am happy to have a physical release. 

No comments:

Post a Comment