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Friday, 19 February 2016

Reviews: Wolfmother, Iggy Pop, Lissie

Wolfmother: Victorious (Universal)

Wolfmother's previous album New Crown was digital only release that saw the band reform after frontman Andrew Stockdale embarked on a solo career. If I'm honest the solo album sounded almost exactly like Wolfmother so maybe I was a little over zealous when I called New Crown a return to form as the form had never really gone away, however what it did show was Wolfmother were just as much as a going concern as they ever have been. Shift to 2016 and the bands stunning debut was reissued for it's 10th anniversary so the stage was set for Wolfmother to release a new set of songs while attention was fixed on them. Victorious is that new set of songs and many of you will be happy to learn the magic is still there The Love That You Give is a bit of a false start if I'm honest but as soon as the sublime mountain leveling riff for the title track kicks the band hit the ground running, momentum doesn't dip through BaronessPretty Peggy and City Lights there is a lull until the psychedelic Gypsy Caravan has it's freak flag flying proudly, but it's really these five songs that are the best on the album.

At just 35 minutes the album is not over long and has just enough highs to keep your attention, but it does trail off towards the end. Stockdale once again shows his guitar heroics throughout (he can certainly write a riff) and 'that' voice still sounds like it did in 2006. The band have notoriously had personnel problems but these seem to have resolved themselves as long term bassist/keyboardist Ian Peres is still here from the last two albums (albeit just contributing keys to the record) and the drumstool is shared by session men Joey Waronker and Josh Freese. Wolfmother have always had the same problem as The Darkness their debuts came at exactly the right time and caught rock at nadir where they seemed to reinvigorate it, because of this however nothing they have released since has seemed to stand up to it, Victorious doesn't really stand up to that debut as it plays it just a bit safe for my liking but it's not supposed to stand up this is a band getting in touch with their legacy again and they are nearly there. 8/10    

Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression (Lorna Vista)

Iggy Pop is the president of the state punk rock, he and his band The Stooges were at the forefront of the American punk rock explosion in the late 60's and 70's but Iggy was always a bit different, whereas he is considered to be one of the first punk rockers, Iggy and the Stooges especially had more blues and garage rock influences than anything else, Iggy himself has dabbled with all sorts of styles throughout his career, so it's because of this that Post Pop Depression is not the huge surprise it should be. The idea initially came from Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme who jumped deep into songwriting after striking up a rapport with Pop over letters, where Homme asked Pop about his work with David Bowie. After these letters both men met up with half finished ideas and wrote and recorded the album in secret with Homme self financing and producing the album.

The finished result is actually very good, there flashes to Pop's anarchistic early days but the most part this is Homme's baby with the same kind of of kilter weirdness that he brings to QOTSA (American Valhalla) and more recently Them Crooked Vultures (German Days). The overarching influence on this record though seems to be Nick Cave as the album is filled with the same kind of 'murder ballads' that Cave has always been the master of, from Vulture that sounds like the theme to a lost Spaghetti Western, to the haunting Break Into Your Heart, the poetic Gardenia and the funky Sunday all of the songs ooze with darkness, the aging Pop's baritone coming to terms with his legacy and mortality in the lyrics. Homme and Pop have created an album that plays to both their talents and sees them doing something a little different to their day jobs, an interesting listen. 7/10     

Lissie: My Wild West (Lionboy & Thirty Tigers)

Lissie's third album is culmination of her career trajectory thus far, gaining elements of her previous record, which brought a lot of electronic and even some ambient elements, while retaining her folk rock sound. My Wild West is inspired by the country roots Lissie grew up in and have now more than ever come to inspire her since her move away from LA back to the Midwest. This transition is documented on the album's first track proper, the beautiful string laden, sorrowful Hollywood which is a song lamenting the broken spell of LaLa Land. There are a lot more acoustic sounds on this record possibly due to Lissie's extensive acoustic tour last year, everything feels a lot more natural.

Yes there are still electronic elements as I've said mainly on the thumping title track and the stirring reverbed Hero sees Lissie show off her powerful pipes and it's on the more organic sounds of the stripped back Sun Keeps Risin' where Lissie howls with pain, just like Stevie Nicks used to in her White Witch heyday. This is yet another excellent album from Lissie who has gone back to her roots with songs such as the superbly defiant Don't You Give Up On Me that goes hand in hand with Daughters to back up Lissie's strong sassy attitude that's been evident since her debut. On the other hand she isn't afraid to bare her soul on Together Or Apart which is beautiful song about long distance/forgotten love, a theme that also comes up again on Ojai. My Wild West is a very personal album from Lissie and one that sees her progress once again as an artist. 8/10 

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