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Wolfmother

by Philip Brasor

Sydney hard-rock power-trio Wolfmother are still young, which may explain why they parade their influences so recklessly. People who deride their willfully 1970s sound say they pick and choose their signifiers purely for their effect: the sci-fi/fantasy album artwork of Frank Frazetta; the poems about wizards and unicorns; singer-guitarist Andrew Stockdale’s Ozzy Osbourne/Robert Plant wail and Tony Iommi/Jimmy Page power chords; the gratuitous psychedelic detours — it’s all way too obvious and derivative. But it’s also executed with imagination and skill.

In any case, this sort of stuff was already dumb when it was first done in the ’70s, so why take issue with someone who does it nearly as well and obviously enjoys it? The over-the-top production that characterizes the group’s eponymous debut album (especially that organ on “Woman”) would seem to prove that they’ve done their homework and strive for a kind of integrity. And as for being derivative bandwagon-jumpers, if you really think that Jack White cares about these guys ripping him off, well, then you think about Jack White too much.

Last summer, when they opened Day Two of the Fuji Rock Festival on the Green Stage, they had to shoehorn their drawn-out jams and self-indulgent stage theatrics into a 45-minute time slot, and the music was short-changed as a result. That shouldn’t be the case when they play their own headline gigs next week and will have plenty of time and opportunity to either make fools of themselves or to rock you senseless.