Album Review of the week Wolfmother “New Crown” 2014, SR on Bandcamp

Upon reviewing Wolfmother’s latest release, “New Crown” I went in immediately with a feeling that generated little optimism. Not to be completely negative, but Guitarist Andrew Stockdale was coming off a freshly disappointing solo album and it has been 5 years since the sophmore slump “Cosmic Egg” album was released, which was a far cry from their copied, but refreshing and listenable self titled debut. With a revolving door of lineups that would make Axl Rose dizzy and 9 years distance from the (mostly) well received debut, “Wolfmother” is no longer really Wolfmother. They should really just call themselves the “Andrew Stockdale Band” or something like that.

The opening track, “How many times” is watered down, like a rowboat in a tsunami. It is teeming with borrowed Sabbath riffery and sounds like it was hastily recorded, with little preparation. The lyrics are devoid of any originality and the song just trails off. Not a good sign for an opening track.

That is the case for the first half of the album. From sheer annoyance at the poor production, or production location, maybe a series of tin shacks? to the tinny vocals, “stoner rock” hooks to the false hope of a good beginning of a song then a complete collapse. The first half of the album is largely forgettable and not really worth listening to.

“New Crown” does pick up a little steam with “Feelings” which has a somewhat fresh sound to it, like a punked up kinks song, so there is some hope, not too bad overall.  “I ain’t got no” captures some of the old magic with cool riffs and vocals, but sounds a little cribbed, yet still good. The album then regresses again with some weak closing numbers. Annoyance sets in again, with fragmented songs with elements of bad acid rock and weak acoustic passages and a general feeling of throwing any rock riff at a wall, to see what sticks. While some of the songwriting has great moments, most do not translate to good vocal interpretation on this album.

Finally, if “Cosmic Egg” is a far cry from the debut release, “New Crown” would have to be a moaning wail from both of the first 2 releases. I do not know what “Wolfmother” is going to do next, but it cannot get much worse,

I give this album a generous 1.5 stars out of 5 stars

Standout tracks

“Feelings” “I aint got no” “She got it”

Feelings

Album Review of the Week: Humble Pie, 1970 A&M Records

Upon listening to Humble Pie’s self titled third release from 1970. One gets the feeling that the “pie” is ready to serve, that the filling is congealed! “Humble Pie” is a departure from their first two albums, which were more acoustic/folk amalgamations that had an “all over the place” feel to them. Like a lost motorist, the first two LPs seemed to have no direction. That is not the case on “Humble Pie”, as there is a strong blues/rock presence and a noticeable change in musical direction.

For starters, the original lineup of Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton sharing lead guitar and lead vocals was intact. As well as the rock solid rhythm section of Greg Ridley on bass and backing vocals and drummer Jerry Shirley, which constitutes an awesome quartet. So no revolving door of new players was required, what was needed was a new sound. Humble Pie was under new management, and the rest, they say, is history.

“Live with me” is the opener and builds up into an epic heavy blues/rock number, with Marriott howling in fine fashion along with sultry keyboards and Frampton showing off his excellent guitar and vocals as they trade off sections of the song in fine fashion. This song grabs the listener and does not let go!

Another standout track is “I’m ready”, a riff heavy funky rocker that is loaded with swagger. It is impressive to see two outstanding singer/guitarists trading vocals and guitar solos! The stage was certainly big enough for these two amazing talents.

“Red light mama, red hot!” is a quintessential Humble Pie song and a template for future pie songs. With suggestive lyrics, funky breakdowns and riff heavy guitars coupled with Marriott’s soulful howling at it’s best gives a glimpse into the future.

The album is not all blues rock, there are still elements of folk, country and psychedelia on songs “Only a roach” “Earth and water song” and “Sucking on the sweet vine”, which are a change of pace from the rockers, while still showcasing Marriott and Frampton’s talents. What is also impressive is bassist Greg Ridley, who could have sang lead as well as driving the bus. A band with 3 great singers does not come along very often!

Finally, the verdict on “Humble Pie” is that it is a good album, but not great. What is great is the lineup, it is too bad that Marriott and Frampton couldn’t stay together for decades. However, this LP shows that Humble Pie had found their sound and new horizons were ahead. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu6JuXYPVXY