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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Wolfmother - New Crown Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 03.26.2014

RIP Dave Brockie


My 2014 Reviews:
In chronological order

Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust EP [8.0] // Warpaint - Warpaint [9.0] // Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues [7.0] // Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust [9.0] // Mogwai - Raves Tapes [4.0] // Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter [6.0] // You Me At Six - Cavalier Youth [5.5] // Gaslight Anthem - The B-Sides [6.5] // Of Mice and Men - Restoring Force [8.0] // Within Temptation - Hyrda [8.5] // Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow [8.0] // The Rifles - None the Wiser [5.0] // Skindred - Kill the Power [7.0] // Katy B - Little Red [9.0] // The Family Rain - Under the Volcano [7.0] // Clare Maguire - Clare Maguire EP [7.0] // Behemoth - The Satanist [7.0] // Wild Beasts - Present Tense [10.0] // Beck - Morning Phase [9.5] // Issues - Issues [7.0] // Fanfarlo - Let's Get Extinct [4.0] // The Chain Gang of 1974 - Daydream Forever [3.5] // Indica - Shine [5.0] // Grand Magus - Triumph and Power [6.0] // Nina Nesbitt - Peroxide [9.0] // ††† (Crosses) - ††† (Crosses) [6.5] // Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron [8.0] // Pharrell Williams - G I R L [7.0] // Silversun Pickups - The Singles Collection [8.0] // The Fray - Helios [4.0] // Kid Cudi - Satellite Flight: Journey to Mother Moon [9.0] // Pharrell Williams - G I R L [7.0] // We Are Scientists - TV En Francais [6.5] // Major Lazer - Apocalypse Soon [2.0] // Rick Ross - Mastermind [7.5] // Real Estate - Atlas [8.5] // Comeback Kid - Die Knowing [7.0] // Reverend and the Makers ThirtyTwo [8.5] // Broken Bells - After the Disco [6.0] // Blood Red Shoes - Blood Red Shoes [5.5] // Metronomy - Love Letters [9.0] // Architects - Lose Forever // Lost Together [6.0] // Elbow - The Take Off and Landing of Everything [6.5] // Kamchatka - The Search Goes On [8.0] // Sisyphus - Sisyphus [8.0] // The Pretty Reckless - Going to Hell [7.5] // Skrillex - Recess [1.5] // Taking Back Sunday - Happiness Is [7.0] // Temples - Sun Structures [5.5] // Future Islands - Singles [9.0] // Shakira - Shakira [7.0] // My Chemical Romance - May Death Never Stop You: The Greatest Hits 2001-2013 [8.5] // Liras - Mess [7.0] // Wolfmother - New Crown [8.0]

Wolfmother is:
Andrew Stockdale – vocals/guitars
Ian Peres – bass/keyboards
Vin Steele – drums

WolfmotherNew Crown

Track listing:
1. How Many Times
2. Enemy Is In Your Mind
3. Heavy Weight
4. New Crown
5. Tall Ships
6. Feelings
7. “I Ain't Got No”
8. She Got It
9. My Tangerine Dream
10. Radio
11. I Don't Know Why
Running time: 45:33

Att what point are we supposed to stop saying “Artists X has done a Beyonce” and instead merely proclaim “this week's surprise new release of the week is...!” I mean, when Queen B did it last December, the whole internet went into temporary meltdown while people tried to get hold of it. And then earlier this year Kid Cudi did a similar thing and people were like “whoa, cool!” Then it was the turn of Skrillex with Recess and my reaction was pretty much, “huh, ok.” And now Wolfmother has dropped it's third load of 70s nostalgia on us in the form of New Crown and the reaction is something along the lines of “wait a fucking minute, Wolfmother?!” I thought they were done. Following numerous issues regarding the band's label and a revolving door of departing members, Andrew Stockdale came out and announced he would no longer be performing under the Wolfmother moniker and last summer he released the album Keep Moving under his own name, despite the record consisting predominantly of material that was to be used for the new Wolfmother album. Obviously it was around that time that I stopped paying attention because I hadn't released Stockdale confirmed the band would get to work on new material a month after that release. New Crown is that material.

The current line up consists of Stockdale, obviously, alongside Vin Steele on drums and Ian Peres providing bass and keyboard work. A teaser was posted online last December regarding the new album, but that was the last little snippet of information we were given prior to the record becoming available on line this past weekend. Personally, I thought the world had moved on. Sales of 2009's Cosmic Egg were poor compared to the band's debut, and through all the turmoil the band has seen in recent years, it was a fair assumption to say we would see no more of the Aussie outfit. But alas, here we are. And maybe releasing the new album with minimal fanfare is a sure fire way of a) getting people talking about the band once more and b) ensuring that it will exceed expectations – because there were none in the first place. Savvy.

Fans disappointed with the more experimental sound of 2009's Cosmic Egg will likely be pleased with New Crown is it takes the band back to its more grunge-laden roots of blues rock that was so prominent on the debut record. When I looked back at my own review of Cosmic Egg, my first impressions were positive but in retrospect the record isn't a patch on the band's first. The band really does make a determined effort to get back to basics here and the overall result is a much more cohesive end product. Beware of “Feelings” though, a track that sticks out like a sore thumb with its gritty, dirty production and late 90s punk vibe. It's an odd inclusion and although it's very catchy it's much more reminiscent of the much-maligned sophomore record than the critically acclaimed Wolfmother. “Feelings” aside though, this a much more focused record as you can tell from the very first track, “How Many Times,” that opens with snarling riffs and frantic drums. Each member is given time to shine throughout the record, with sprawling guitar licks, raucous baselines and intrusive drums getting equal share of the spotlight throughout. “Enemy Is In Your Mind” opens with a dirty great big riff that could break down any wall and penetrates your subconcious. This is the Wolfmother people fell in love with nearly a decade ago. The title track and “Tall Ships” are incredibly melancholy offerings that take you to the edge of your seat in anticipation of something great and Stockdale delivers snarling vocals that are on point far more often than not.

As well as some precise instrumentation, Andrew Stockdale really pushes the limits of his voice on this one, hitting some of the highest notes I've heard him manage. Lyrically, the album is pretty strong, notably on “My Tangerine Dream,” one of the record's highlights, and “Heavy Weight,” the latter of which is vintage Wolfmother with it's uncompromising assault on the senses. ““I Ain't Got No,”” and yes the double quotes are accurate, is a sprawling ode to the 60s and borrows heavily from the Stones, but it's done in such a playful manner that you can't really fault it. “She Got It” is chock full of the kind of filthy guitar licks that made the band's debut such a fan favourite, but it also incorporates elements of the punk scene. Whereas the experimentation on Cosmic Egg felt scattered and unchannelled, here the band seems to have a plan in mind and have delivered a much more cohesive effort that brings all the band's influences together. If there's a complaint to be made, I guess it's that some people will be put off by the production, which is far from clean, but personally I feel it makes the album sound all the more organic and you get the impression that these songs would go down a blast in a live setting. Besides, considering the method of release, one would have to assume that there's a more polished version to be made available at a later date. Anyway, if you like your rock and roll without a few imperfections then you've probably missed the point entirely and Wolfmother may not be for you. The fans will love this record though, and quite rightly. As opposed to Skrillex, this is definitely the kind of surprise I can get behind.

Wolfmother - “New Crown”

The 411: Some people don't like surprises, but this one is hard to turn your nose up at. Andrew Stockdale and co. deliver another superb album of chugging rock glory drenched in the sounds of the 60s and 70s. The band has always worn its influences on its sleeve but Wolfmother carries a sound all its own, and it's a sound that has really flourished on New Crown. There are a couple of tracks that do skate by without leaving much in the way of an impression, but on the whole this is wonderfully concocted record of free-flowing guitar music that puts just the right amount of emphasis on each individual element. Stockdale provides some of his best ever vocal performances, and there's plenty of hooks to keep you occupied and ensure that toes will be a-tapping from start to finish. Andrew Stockdale obviously decided that Wolfmother was something too good to be disposed off, and as far as New Crown goes, the proof is in the pudding. And it's delicious.
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend


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