So many things have changed in the Wolfmother camp since the release of their self-titled debut (most obviously that two thirds of the band that made the record quit acrimoniously in 2008), and yet we’d defy anyone to even notice. From the opening of ‘California Queen’, Cosmic Egg’s first track, it just sounds so much like, well, Wolfmother: distorted organ, wah-guitar, tempo changes, lyrics about mystic hazes and so on. Similarly, first single ‘New Moon Rising’ is a classic slice of ’Mother rock (meaning, yes, it sounds a lot like ’70s rockers Blue Cheer), but then the last thing anyone wants to hear from Wolfmother is a wild swerve away from what they do best.
Frontman/founder Andrew Stockdale’s also got some new pieces of guitar equipment: his octave pedal gets a good workout in the rockin’ ‘Sundial’ and the title track reimagines The Doors’ ‘Roadhouse Blues’ as a glam-rock stomp, while ‘Pilgrim’ could be Status Quo circa ‘Pictures of Matchstick Men’ (dig that psychedelic chorus!). Naturally there are moments where the band get their Zep on: ‘10,000 Feet’ (which, sadly, doesn’t appear to be about centipedes) has ‘Kashmir’-style cellos huffing away in the bottom end before the coda turns into the best Helmet song they never wrote, and the slow-building ‘In The Morning’ has some of Stockdale’s best Robert Plant-isms.
Then again, the drab power ballad ‘Far Away’ was clearly knocked up in an afternoon to make up the numbers, and it’ll take more than some off-beat guitar bursts to convince The Rolling Stones’ lawyers that ‘White Feather’ isn’t a blatant steal from ‘Start Me Up’. However, Cosmic Egg is a worthy successor to the band’s debut, with all the strengths and weaknesses that suggests.
Andrew P Street
Available in stores.
Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City
Ghostface’s latest is an R&B album, but knowing that still didn’t prepare us for the jealousy and vulnerability stoking this supposedly thick-skinned gangsta’s sordid soul platter. It’s passion and paranoia that steer Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City.
A large slate of guest crooners, including Fabolous and Estelle, gamely play along with the Staten Island MC’s lovelorn script, joining in dialogue with an enraged Ghostface, who’s livid with the cable guy bedding his girl (‘Guest House’) when he’s not atoning for his past misdeeds (‘Do Over’, ‘Lonely’).
But just because he steers clear of his usual drug tales doesn’t mean this is prettied up. The certifiably not-safe-for-work video for ‘Stapleton Sex’, for example, isn’t nearly as raunchy as the explicit verses. While it’s easy for hardcore Wu-Tang fans to dismiss the disc as too soft, his ample supporting role on Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II can hold over the haters until Ghostdini’s next delightfully demented concept record.
Available in stores.