Tuesday, October 24, 2006
This album dropped months and months ago, but is really just picking up momentum since the summer here in Ontario.
This is the first album from Wolfmother, a trio from Australia. I really like this album. I'm going to take some flack for this, I know. Many rock snobs are spouting off about how derivative it is, how much of a Zeppelin rip off it is, how much of a Jack White rip off it is. Know what? I don't care. Let's just get this straight now- all rock music is a rip off. And it's great. Name any great rock band of the early 70s. They ripped off and are still being ripped off. Rock gets recycled. I love it all. Now, let's do this.
Wolfmother may sound like all your favourite rock bands, but they're no tribute act. It's like the gods of rock gathered all the great forerunners of metal, poured them into a giant mix mill with a Camaro, an eight track, an ipod, some crunchy old guitar cords, that rug in your basement rec room, sprinkled something over it that looked like parsley, and extruded one of my favourite records of the year.
It starts off with a throat shredding wail and goes straight into the march of "Another Dimension." This lead track should convince you that these guys have done their homework. I believe I heard a lyric referring to purple haze.
Not only have they obviously done some faithful listening, they've put their time in at the rehearsal space. This is a very capable trio. Drummer Myles Heskett has hard hitting chops that sound jazz-based (like Bonham, Ward, and Densmore); Andrew Stockdale is a guitar player capable of both big fat chords and skillful picking; he sings in a barely controlled chameleonic squeal appropriate to the genre; bass player Chris Ross is not only heavy but also plays keyboards. Kids, he's rocking the old Hammond B-3 on this record. Plus they've got their LOOK down perfectly. I believe them.
Heidi puts the record through its paces:
The Jethro Jetta test: "I think it sounds great. I wasn't upset when I heard it, which I am quite often when I listen to records."
"It does give me those Led Zeppelin warm fuzzies."
(He's not a big fan of the remasters. He says they took a perfectly good analog recording and ran it throught the ProTools Smash Machine or whatever the hell they do to make everything sound so harsh these days.)
The Dining room test: Yeah! Very appetite stimulating. We actually got this disc in time for the last days of picnic table back yard meals, with the little purple boom box aimed out the sliding screen door. Grilled burgers with the works sound amazingly good with the way Wolfmother tastes!
The Family Room Surround Sound test: I love this; I was rewarded for my listen by little things I didn't hear in the car or on the boombox. Strums, distant drum fills, and a little bit of panning from one side to another. Generally it's mixed with the drums and vocals at the front, and the guitars at the back, surrounding your head. Who doesn't love guitars surrounding your head? I know I love it.
Packaging: If you've been here before you'll know what a sucker I am for a beautiful packaging job. This a dark rock and roll fantasy complete with the mostly naked goddess, the roiling sky, the crashing waves and the sea serpents!!!! It's actually beautifully done. Take a minute to study the artwork; it's reproduced so that the texture of the canvas shows. There are lyrics included too! I would have liked to see the lettering a little larger in the credits, but I'm married to a studio geek so I'm biased that way.
This is the kind of music that can put you into a trance of fuzz, but just before things get hypnotic, (Colossal, Mind's Eye) they change it up (Pyramid). Overall I think the songs are in the right order. Notice that in a nod to vinyl, the listing on the back cover, there is a space where you'd have to get off your butt and go flip the record over.
Lyrically they've written with great rhythm and fairly loose rhyming structure. The content is perfectly Deep and Meaningless (my favourite kind) while not going off into cheesy territory. (Only Zeppelin could do Tolkien references, okay?)
Production wise, it's well done. It sounds great, the instruments are all given enough space, good performances were captured, and just enough grit was left in, like a little bit of amp buzz, to keep it interesting. Good Job, D. Sardy! Yes, there was ProTools involved in the editing, but the engineers didn't abuse it, and the mastering job didn't compress it into a blanket of noise. What a relief.
I like this record so much that I'm going to test out my new rating system on it. It's excellent. I'm tempted to give it a classic but really, how can you tell these things in the present? That's why I aim to invent my own system. Screw all the other systems. It's fun, it's well done, I have no complaints. I can dance to it in my living room and it feels good on the highway. My kids can listen to it uncensored. My husband doesn't cringe when it's on. It makes me feel groovy!
I give it a FIVE JOHN DEERE rating!