August has been redeemed this week by more noteworthy releases than you can shake a stick at! Iron & Wine (Sam Beam) gives us his first new material in 4 years as Iron & Wine with “Beast Epic”, the debut album “Invitation” from supergroup Filthy Friends (Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney), plus friends), Bay Area garage/psych rockers Thee Oh Sees (now just Oh Sees)give us maybe their 16th? Album with “Orc” and finally Australian rockers King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard drop their 3rd album of 2017 (goal is a total of 5!) with “Sketches of Brunswick East”.
Notable and esteemed rockers Queens of the Stone Age unleash their 7th album with “Villains”, Philly rock traditionalists The War on Drugs drop album number 4 “A Deeper Understanding”, Long Island band Brand New who have evolved from punk/emo to more indie rock release their long-awaited 5th album “Science Fiction”, underrated EMA gives us her 3rd proper album which is a commentary on the current social plight in the Midwest “Exile in the Outer Ring”,
Something new for just about anyone who enjoys music this week.
Lots of fun pop releases this week not to mention a new album from UK alt-rockers The Charlatans “Different Days” and there’s a 50th anniversary release for the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” (remix is pretty good).
I did see Tool in concert for the first time this week and it was an both an auditory and visual experience. Great musicians plus a lot of attention and detail to their lighting and projections to complement the music. Plus, they have actual fanatics for fans. Lots of love going on there for those four guys. And the longest merchandise lines I can remember seeing at a concert. And they stayed that way the entire evening.
Many people walking around with plastic shopping bags overflowing with merch. It seemed like about 75% of the attendees were wearing Tool shirts. However, I saw a number of Soundgarden shirts walking around as well.
Stop in next Friday for your weekly Release Radar from Noisy Planet.
This week has an overflowing handful of interesting new releases including the debut solo album from Amber Coffman (formerly of Dirty Projectors but when you break-up with your boyfriend and he’s the leader of the band a solo career suddenly seems like a really good idea) “City of No Reply”, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys is releasing his second? solo album “Waiting on a Song”, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) is releasing his first solo album in quite some time “Is This The Life We Really Want?”, Alt-J are dropping “RELAXER” and on the harder side Mutoid Man featuring Stephen Brodsky (Cave In) and Ben Koller (Converge) share their second album “War Moans” and Philly-rockers Elder give us their 5th album “Reflections of a Floating World”
Chris Cornell’s toxicology report showed multiple prescription drugs in his system, including 4 Ativan, Narcan (from EMTs), Butalbital and Pseudoephedrine (decongestant). Clearly he wasn’t in his right mind and it resulted in a catastrophic impact.
For you Tool fans (or the curious) here’s a link to the show I was aa a couple weeks ago in Virginia. If you’re not familiar with them, go right to 1:38:36 and watch their final song. Another good part to check out is the 18:00 mark with “Schism”.
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.