No band can crank out a healthy dose of throwback like Wolfmother. Despite the last few tumultuous years in the band’s history, there have been rumors of the band’s return. The Australian group, with its ever-changing lineup led by charismatic frontman and axeman Andrew Stockdale, just released a new album much in the manner of Beyoncé: unannounced and taking everyone (or at least the rock community) by surprise. As soon as this record hit the Internet, I scoured for other reviews and was shocked to see the negativity and criticism toward New Crown. There are supposed issues with the production value and the fact that the record feels rushed and the mixing is out of whack. I guess I’ll go ahead and say this now: I really, really like this record.
The riffs on this bad boy are unlike anything since, well, the last Wolfmother record. It’s true that, in places, the vocals are mixed very quietly, but honestly, I don’t care too much. The music is so in-your-face and raw that the album harks back to a band just hanging out in its garage, old school style. And that’s how it’s supposed to be sometimes. In a world where the lo-fi, art-rock, indie sound is king, it’s so refreshing to hear some goddamn kick-your-teeth-in rock ‘n’ roll.
The album screams to life with the first four songs. “How Many Times” wails with Stockdale’s furious and fast fretwork and buzzes with that signature Wolfmother fuzz.
“Enemy Is in Your Mind” is Black Sabbath ferocious. It’s low, gloomy, doomy and crunchy as hell, all over Stockdale’s Robert Plant-esque howls. What would happen if Zeppelin and Sabbath mixed? This song, that’s what.
“New Crown” keeps the riffage going and really breaks it down for an awesome bass interlude in the middle of the song. This is the centerpiece of the album and deservedly so, as it has everything that makes Wolfmother the torchbearers of that classic rock sound: great vocals, dirty instrumentals and a raw texture that shows a band at its core.
The band takes a quick punk break on “Feelings,” which is the most full-force balls-to-the-wall gritty song on the album. “I Ain’t Got No” is another standout on the album with a sound that screams The Rolling Stones meets The White Stripes. “My Tangerine Dream” is a psychedelic rock odyssey that pulls from the greats of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, and “Radio” is a fuzzy, heavy rock ‘n’ roll dream that finishes the album off with a bang, putting a stamp on a record that defies all conventions of its time.
New Crown isn’t just a surprise; it’s a wonderful, glorious rock ‘n’ roll surprise. Listening to this album will help you remember what came before most of the music we hear on a constant basis in this day and age; in fact, it shows us what’s hiding at the very core.
Wolfmother’s talent, I think, lies in tapping into that primal force and somehow keeping the well wet and the riffs heavy. As long as this band and Stockdale exist, there will be some old-fashioned rock ready to be had in the universe. And that is a beautiful thing.