With exactly 10 weeks to go before the mass chaos, visceral entertainment, and euphoric pulchritude that is Austin, TX’s 20th annual South by Southwest Festival, we over here at iGIF are getting pretty damn excited. If you haven’t heard already, the lineup, yet again, is extravagantly delicious, with such well-knowns as CYHSY, Belle & Sebastian, and Arctic Monkeys, among many others. In celebration of the upcoming festival, as well as our hope that we may find ourselves inconspicuously placed in a motel on the outskirts of Austin between March 15th and 19th, we’ve decided to create yet another weekly feature: Road to SXSW ’06. Every Wednesday until the festival (making that 10), we’ll feature a lesser-known SXSW band for all of you to wet yourselves over. The first of these is Australia’s Wolfmother.
I guess I’ll begin by saying Wolfmother kicks more ass than Clint Eastwood at a euthanasia clinic. After numerous listens, I can safely say that it’s one of the most energizing rock albums of 2005. The vocals, cracked by lead singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale, recall a fistfight between Ozzy and the bat whose head he bit off. Or perhaps imagine, if you will, Jack White wading waist-deep through Robert Plant‘s chest hair, looking for his sister. The music, as you may have guessed, is a little on the hard rocking side, with strong guitar riffs and catchy, layered melodies. By end of the album, there’s only one question remaining: why can’t all music be this good?
I wish that I could host the whole album for you, because it’s all good, but such is the winter of the blogger’s discontent…so here are a few tracks to get your feet wet:
Wolfmother – The Joker & The Thief
Something about this song reminds me of The White Stripes‘s Black Math. I’d say it’s the similar vocals backed up by the strong, paced guitar…but it would be unfair to dismiss this song as merely a similarity, as this song has something Mr. White failed to touch on. This is a ballad. About a minute and a half into the track, the arpeggio’d guitar comes right after Stockdale wails a confident proclaimation “We are not going home!” Fuck-yeah.
Wolfmother – Apple Tree
When this song begins, it starts as a traditional tune from the early days of rock, as the lyrics seem to respond to each riff on the guitar. Then the song slows its pace, recalling the vocal stylings of Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd, but picks itself back up later for amazing guitar soloing to the tune of the Stripe‘s Hello Operator. This is probably the hardest rocker of the bunch, the apex if you will, placed perfectly at the center of the album.
Wolfmother – Tales From The Forest Of Gnomes
On this track, the band shows a slightly different musical style. The song starts slow, as the lyrics suggest “If you listen to the sound within your mind, you may find the answer blowing in the tide.” The chorus comes in, as Stockdale follows up with his answer: “Say goodbye to your sorrows, and hello to tomorrow.” Simple but kind advice from one of the best (and catchiest) songs on the album.
Wolfmother – Vagabond
What a perfect closer to a near perfect album. The band chooses to end with it’s only acoustic song, one that reminds me very much of Devendra Banhart‘s Little Yellow Spider. It’s a skillfull, satisfying end for a band that I wish I had discovered years ago. If you make it to SXSW, make a note to see these guys, you’ll be more than glad you did!