Where To Start With... Wolfmother
Occupying the middle ground somewhere between the crunching riffs of Black Sabbath, the scratchy garage rock of The White Stripes and the meandering psychedelia of Tame Impala, Australian rockers Wolfmother have spent the last decade carving out a niche for themselves with a sound that is both shamelessly retro and refreshingly single-minded.
Founded in Sydney in 2004 as a three-piece comprising lead vocalist and guitarist Andrew Stockdale, bassist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett, the band released their eponymous debut album in 2005 and toured the world extensively before Heskett and Ross left the band in 2008, citing “irreconcilable differences” with frontman Stockdale. Since then, the band has gone through numerous line-ups and turned in another two albums – 2009's Cosmic Egg and 2014's New Crown – with Stockdale remaining as the band's driving force and sole original member.
This week sees the release of their fourth album, Victorious, for which the band have recruited producer Brendan O'Brien, a man whose long list of production credits includes work with bands like Pearl Jam, Audioslave, Stone Temple Pilots and The Gaslight Anthem, as well as the likes of veteran artists AC/DC and Bob Dylan. This time around the band have recorded at Henson Studios in Los Angeles, the former home of Charlie Chaplin's film studio that has played host to recording sessions by everyone from Daft Punk to jazz legend Herbie Hancock.
The move to a proper studio for Victorious represents a departure from the last Wolfmother album, New Crown, which Stockdale produced himself and self-released through the band's Bandcamp website. Although tracks like 'Enemy Is In Your Mind' are as strong as any on Wolfmother's previous two albums, the DIY approach to recording meant a much more raw, lo-fi sound than on earlier albums. Here though, with O'Brien manning the controls, the result is an album that sounds polished without sacrificing any of that raw energy.
The title track is a case in point, with Stockdale channelling Ronnie James Dio over chugging riffs and shuffling rhythms, following on from similarly frenetic opener 'The Love That You Give'. It's a similar story across the rest of the new album, but there are a couple of moments where the tempo lets up and tracks like 'Pretty Peggy' slow things down a bit for something a little more anthemic. If you like your Wolfmother records played at blistering volume and don't have much time for ballads, you'll find plenty to like on this album when it arrives on shelves today. (You can also preview and purchase online at the top-right of this page...)
You can find the video for the title track below For those who are new to the band's riff-heavy stylings, beneath the new video we've picked five of their best tunes by way of introduction..
'Joker and the Thief'
Chugging riffs, wailing vocals, thunderous drums; this is pretty much everything Wolfmother are about condensed into one song. Taken from their self-titled debut, this is a great example of why Wolfmother are so highly rated as a live act.
The first single Wolfmother ever released in 2005, 'Mind's Eye' contains all the touchpoints that usually get mentioned in the same breath as the Aussie rockers - Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd – it's all here. Not that will bother the band or their fans, they're revelling in it and on this track it really shows.
'New Moon Rising'
The second single from their sophomore album Cosmic Egg, 'New Moon Rising' features a different line-up from their debut and the result is a much more rounded sound, but all the important ingredients are still present and correct. Underpinned by a filthy, snaking guitar riff and anthemic hook, this is one for the mosh pit.
'Enemy Is In Your Mind'
Although the sound on Wolfmother's third album New Crown is a little more lo-fi than most of their output, there are still some cracking tunes on there and this is one of the best. Sure, it may have benefitted from a little more polish in the studio, but there's an appealing rough edge present on this song and that distorted Hammond organ is just glorious.
'Woman' (MSTRKRFT Remix)
Still one of their most enduring tunes, 'Woman' was one of the best moments on the band's debut and remains a popular live fixture. However, let us draw your attention to this remix by MSTRKRFT, the noisy electronic duo featuring one half of Death From Above 1979, Jesse F. Keeler. The shuffling backbeat is out, replaced by a stomping, four-to-the-floor rhythm that transforms this fuzzy rocker into a dancefloor-filling monster.