A couple months ago I wrote about a loyal reader asking for more hard rock. I also have a goal to feature more unknown acts on Cheap Tunes Tuesday—new to me and hopefully new to you. Today’s band checks both of those boxes, so get ready to learn more.
In the year 2000, Andrew Stockdale, Chris Ross and Myles Heskett started jamming together. It would take another four years, but they’d officially form a band. Beyond each of them playing, Stockdale acted as the group’s photographer, Ross became the digital media czar, and Heskett was the graphic designer respectively.
Ross was tasked with naming the group, and the first performance for the newly named Wolfmother was April of ’04 at Vic in the Park, a pub in Sydney, Australia. The act was solid enough an indie label picked them up that August. They dropped an EP which would climb the Aussie charts within a month. They’d reach an international record deal with Universal and in May of 2005 they flew to Los Angeles to start working on their debut album.
Wolfmother would rehearse for six weeks at Cherokee Studios before the recording process began at Sound City and Sunset Sound Studios. They wanted a minimalist approach to production since they felt they had a unique “raw, emotive” quality to their live shows—they cared more about that feeling than a flawless performance.
The simply self-titled Wolfmother was a limited release and only available in Australia in October of 2005. The album skyrocketed to #3 on the Australian charts, where it stayed for 78 total weeks. After going 5x platinum down under, the album would be released in the U.S. and the U.K. in early 2006. It would go as high as #22 on the Billboard 200 and #7 on the Mainstream Rock charts. The reviews were almost unanimously positive. Rolling Stone called it the 15th best album of 2006 and offered incredibly generous comparisons to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Total Guitar said it was “ruddy marvelous” and that it “can’t fail to bowl you over”. Some very high praise.
My personal introduction to the band came when this album first came out, but it never really stuck for me. Then last week while traveling in the car, the single “Joker & The Thief” came on, and I was simply mesmerized. On my next long drive I listened to the album start to finish and walked away very impressed.
After listening, I realize I’ve heard many tracks before, in movies and television. I can understand why Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich proclaimed this debut to be “awesome” and stating that he listened to it every day when it first dropped. It’s a little White Stripes-ish in spots—that super raw, distorted heavy rock, which I personally adore. You’d probably label it hard rock at the record store, but it’s got a little psychedelic feel to it too, with that sort of signature pop-punk from the era.
With nearly five million copies sold worldwide, maybe I’m the last passenger on the Wolfmother train—but I’m glad I am finally on board. While the band has three more studio albums on their discography, I’m not sure if any of them will sound the same as this one. They’ve gone through roughly a dozen band members in their relatively short time, with the only constant being Stockdale and his outstanding vocals. I’ll dive head first into their remaining tunes at a later date, but for now, give Wolfmother a shot today. It might be your own personal white unicorn or you may want to listen to it under your favorite apple tree and escape for the day. Happy Tuesday!
Top 3 Tracks: