This week I’m highlighting the latest release from Wolfmother, which is basically Andrew Stockdale and whoever else he assembles to record their current album.  Wolfmother has a classic hard rock sound that harkens back to the ‘70s, showing glimpses of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and many other bands from that era.  Generally Stockdale plays at a high energy and higher tempo level though, and FUN is always a priority.  Wolfmother favors soaring choruses and massive guitar riffs with plenty of effects.  Are they the most original band playing out there today – no.  Are they usually fun as hell to listen to when you’re in the mood to hear this type of music – most definitely!  Every album has at least half a dozen tracks that are a complete blast.  Consider them the aural equivalent of a classic comedy movie that doesn’t score well with movie critics but nevertheless is still a favorite for many moviegoers.  Wolfmother delivers on all that they attempt to offer, which is simply some classic hard rock good time songs.
To give you a little background on the band, they first formed in Sydney, Australia back in 2000, when Stockdale (guitar/vocals) formed the band with a drummer and bassist/keyboardist (really the names don’t matter since it’s a revolving door for everyone else – for the third album Stockdale decided to release it as a solo effort because it really was just him at that point in time and no one else).  The early days were literally just jamming in a garage before the band even performed their first concert 4 years later.  A few months later they got a deal to cut an EP.  The EP charted in Australia and they kept touring before signing with Universal Records to record their debut full-length album.  This self-titled album was huge after it came out in Australia at the end of ’05, eventually reaching quintuple platinum status there (there’s always a good audience for fun hard rock).  This led to the album coming out in other countries throughout 2006, with multiple singles and plenty of film and video game placements.  This started the revolving door of other personnel in the band.  They expanded to a quartet with a second guitarist and released their sophomore album at the end of ’09, titled “Cosmic Egg”.  While it still charted in many countries, #3 in Australia and top twenty in the U.S., it did not generate the same level of excitement as their debut.  This led to many more personnel changes, the aforementioned “3rd album” which was an Andrew Stockdale solo album “Keep Moving”.  This solo effort did not fare well on the charts, even in Australia it peaked at #32.  This led Stockdale to go back to the Wolfmother moniker again and go with a trio for the official Wolfmother 3rd album “New Crown”, released in 2014.  Now, in 2016 Wolfmother’s 4th album “Victorious” has been released.  Legendary hard rock producer Brendan O’Brien produced the album (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, Black Crowes, Stone Temple Pilots).  Stockdale handled guitars, bass, vocals, he picked up a keyboard guy and used a couple of seasoned drummers on the album (Josh Freese and Joey Waronker).
“Victorious” is a solid effort, while there are some missteps there are enough hits to make it worthwhile.  It might as well be a Stockdale solo album, the one element that is missing is more band interplay that could have made the overall album stronger.  But if you listen to it more as a series of singles, it works just fine.  Here are a few tracks to give you a taste of the Wolfmother sound.
“Victorious” – The title track certainly is an example of a classic Wolfmother song.  Soaring vocals on a simple chorus spun around a classic guitar riff.  Verses with Stockdale’s high-pitched vocals floating amongst some chugging riffs.  Instrumental breakdown in the latter half of the song, introducing a new pedal effect.  It’s all here and done quickly and efficiently so you’re not tired of the song before it ends.

“City Lights” – A screeching distorted guitar riffs rings out to kick this track off.  The bass drives the verses more, with some nice keyboard accents.  The chorus is the highlight, as everything comes together nicely and it hits hard and fast before backing off and starting the whole process over again.  The instrumental breakdown on this track has Stockdale playing two guitar parts for a nice effect.  Phrases like “psychedelic satellite” are thrown out just because they sound cool, not to provide any real meaning.  But that’s ok, you’re not listening to Wolfmother to interpret the meaning of the songs, you just want to rock out.

“The Simple Life” – Another flavor of a typical Wolfmother song – this one highlights the drums a bit more and nails another epic chorus with some more cool guitar sounds.  The instrumental breakdown in this song adds some different keyboard elements as well.  Stockdale does a nice job over the last 30 seconds or so bringing everything together to a suitable conclusion.

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