Friday, November 13, 2009

Wolfmother - Cosmic Egg

Wolfmother exploded onto the music scene in 2005 with their self titled debut album, creating a buzz that spread across the world and forever embedding the song "Woman" into my subconscious. The album eventually went platinum and Wolfmother went on to win a handful of awards, including a grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2007. Four years later the weight of success started to take its toll and bassist Chris Ross and drummer Myles Heskett left the band citing the old standby 'irreconcilable differences', we see this all too often with musicians burdened with fame too early in their careers. Lead vocalist and guitarist Andrew Stockdale was left holding the bag.

After a brief hiatus, during which Stockdale almost renamed the band White Feather [insert eye-roll here], Wolfmother returned with three new members and a new album, Cosmic Egg. I'll be the first to admit that when news of a new Wolfmother album surfaced I was, to say the least, a bit skeptical. While Stockdale is a great singer and guitarist I was not at all convinced he could hold together the shattered pieces that were Wolfmother. Well I am happy to report that Wolfmother is alive and well, still assaulting your eardrums with the same stadium sized power riffs and gritty baselines we have all come to love.

Newcomers Ian Peres (bass/keyboard), Aidan Nemeth (guitar) and Dave Atkins (drums) slip seamlessly into the band, picking up exactly where the original trio left off. In fact the new Wolfmother sounds so much like the old Wolfmother that most people wont realize the line-up has changed. While this could be the death toll for some bands it works nicely in this case, everything you liked about Wolfmother is still here and in some cases slightly improved. There are still power ballads and guitar shredding, but the acoustic guitar also makes some appearances along with with a handful of great slow-burning tracks.

But enough of the back history, on to the music. Cosmic Egg starts out in familiar territory with "California Queen" and "New Moon Rising", classic Wolfmother guitar riffs and pounding bass lines. With a quick tempo and heavy drumbeat "Rising" seems especially primed for heavy radio play. Things ease up a bit with "In The Morning", a great rock ballad begging for an arena full of fans holding lighters and swaying to the music. The title track "Cosmic Egg" throws some welcome bluesy guitar licks into the mix adding another weapon to the bands already expansive music arsenal.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is the slow-burning "Far Away", another great ballad utilizing an acoustic guitar paired with heartfelt lyrics. "I believe that love is gonna last forever", Stockdale sings, "but it's all within my mind". A surprisingly deep song that deals with the subjects of loss and the girl that got away. The six minute closing track "Violence Of The Sun" is another high point on the album. A slow building epic full of melodic keyboards, distortion and lofty guitar riffs that end the album in style.

In other news, Stockdale recently recorded a song with Slash for the guitar god's forthcoming solo record. He is in good company with Dave Grohl, Iggy Pop, Nick Oliveri, Flea, Fergie and Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine also featured on the album. And as for Wolfmother, they are currently on a U.S. tour through the fall with a European tour following this winter.

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