Stay Cool Dad

Putting the bite on Wolfmother by Simon Sharwood
January 11, 2006, 2:11 pm
Filed under: I like this band because, Just listened to ..., Sounds like

Wolfmother are hot. And fair enough because they have some great power pop songs.

Now I am a big fan of power pop. Tunes like The Jesus and Mary Chain’s version of Surf City are easily among my all-time favorite songs. I lapped up The Datsuns. I like songs fast, loud, short, guitar-filled and lyrically vapid.

From this you can deduce that I don’t get sucked in by bands like Green Day that are a little too faux-punk for me. I mean those guys are so nice. There’s none of the
f**k -you that comes with real punks and certainly none of the anti-music stance that folks like the Mary Chain devised with their “turn everything up to 12, then crank up the feedback, mumble through the song and play 20-minute shows with our backs to the audience” aesthetic.

Which brings me back to Wolfmother. Most of their songs are pretty heavy-sounding. Parent-disturbingly heavy, I suspect.

But underneath there is just plain old power pop. Their album may sound all nasty and loud and have lots of references to mystical unicorns in it, but really just is some nonsense lyrics over a lot of loud guitars.

If that ain’t power pop, I’ll eat my old vinyl collection.

So why is this a problem? Acclaim for the band seems to place them in the same canon as “New Rock” acts that The Vines initiated, but applaud their resurrection and synthesis of half a dozen heavy rock sounds as some kind of step forward.

I want to dispute that: this is power pop with a seventies edge, not any particular pastiche worth celebrating for its cleverness or advance in the evolution of rock. Why make the argument at all? Because there’s no original aesthetic at all behind their music that I can discern. There’s no irony, no twist, no artistic reason for playing the way they play. In short, this is pop.

That doesn’t mean Wolfmother are this year’s RatCat, but with fewer teenyboppers.

But it doesn’t make their resurrection of the past a sign for the future either.

And it doesn’t stop me liking it even though I dislike all the breathless praise it attracts.

And I love the fact my kids already like it: Appletree is an in-the-car favorite for all ages!


3 Comments so far
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Hi Simon, a couple of things, one about the site on for wolf mother. I have listened to the CD a fwe times now and the more I do so the more I am convinced that they sound like Jack White is fronting Uriah Heep. Particularly the early 70’s Heep sound of descending scales played simultansously on guitar and keyboards(Demons and Wizards era).

Apart from that has anyone checked out basically you type the name of a a band or performer that you like and it does a kind “People who like like this also like…” but illustrated as a proximity map of bands. It is based upon downloads off kazaa but useful for finding something else you like. Also fun for seeing how quckly you can get slayer to Mariah Carey.

Comment by Lee

First off: congratulations on a brilliant idea. Secondly even more congratulations for mentioning The Jesus and Mary Chain straight off the bat – one of my favourite bands. Somewhere, deep in my unconscious, I have a childhood memory that I believed truely good music to be loud and full of screaming guitars. That has always defined my taste, or much of it. In a nutshell, it’s great melodies performed in a rather rough way. So of course The Jesus and Mary Chain were a perfect band. Their first album is one of the most perfect of all time. Imagine how happy I was to hear Just Like Honey resurrected at the nd of Lost in Translation. Just as perfect but nobody in the audience at the cinema really knew what it was – but I did. Inverse snobbery is another one of the pleasures of an ber-cool taste in music.

Comment by David

David’s post reminds me of the moment I realised that it was a song by The Fall (Hip Priest) that was the soundtrack to the night-vision-goggle scene in Silence of the Lambs.

Comment by JG

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