New Crown

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Released without fanfare roughly five years after Cosmic Egg -- and about a year after leader Andrew Stockdale released Keep Moving on his own -- Wolfmother's third album, New Crown, didn't create a media splash, maybe because they're no longer the "next big thing," but rather workingman's rockers. Stockdale is the opposite of Jack White, the rocker he was so often compared to after his first album. White finds new wrinkles in his old template, whereas Stockdale is very happy to dig down deeper into his favorite Sabbath and Zeppelin riffs, kicking up the boogie a little bit harder than those two titans but still favoring fuzz and caterwauls that can't help but bring back memories of gatefold LPs. Depending on your view, this is either his blessing or curse. It's easy to dismiss Stockdale -- who, at this point, is all that Wolfmother is -- as a mere retro-monger, but he has skills as a trashman, creating irresistibly fuzzy squalls of noise and hooks that catch the skin. His greatest detriment is his voice -- it's all yelps, lacking the subtle textures of Ozzy Osbourne -- but he knows when to bury it under guitars, which he often does on New Crown. It's not enough to change the minds of doubters, probably because Stockdale is now totally comfortable doing what he does and nothing more, but that swagger and defiance makes for a cracking little rock & roll record.

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