ALBUM REVIEWS (1st April 2014) – Featuring – Wolfmother and Neil Finn


Wolfmother – Album – “New Crown”

It’s painful to watch a band trying to remain relevant when clearly they were only meant to last a short distance. It’s not a new critique of the band but it’s one that has been leveled at them since their second album and for the third time round Wolfmother prove that their creative vehicle is running on the smell of an oily rag. Considering all of the money that has been wasted on promoting the disgusting music of Wolfmother for the past decade, it really wears thin that this band are still trying to push an agenda of revolution when all they represent is nostalgia and redundant rock n roll dynamics.

For their third album, Wolfmother have decided to cash in on the guerilla album launch campaign in order to garner some kind of hype. It certainly worked from the angle that it sent certain parts of the music world in a social media spin. I wouldn’t say it made the dint that artists like Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine or Beyoncé did but it was still enough to grab headlines for a rather slow news day culturally. The promotional campaign itself has had about as much thought put into it as the albums front cover and I could describe the blandness in which Wolfmother communicates on album number three by simply pointing to the front cover. If this album does anything, it tears away just how much studio trickery was used on previous albums to push the band to epic proportions.

On “New Crown” we get to witness just how amateur this band really is and how underdeveloped Andrew Stockdale is as a songwriter. It was always fairly evident that he lacked any kind of originality but in this bold yet predictable attempt to return to his “roots” we see sloppiness and a creative fatigue pepper fairly standard rock n roll songs. Even Andrew Stockdale seems tired of this formula but he remains committed to pushing brand Wolfmother and fails miserably with every song presented here.

An artist like Andrew Stockdale is not only careless but incredibly irresponsible considering the amount of success and fame he garnered from Wolfmother’s debut album. Even though that album was terrible it provided him a launch pad to explore and evolve what he established but instead of finding new ways to communicate the rock n roll language he chose to keep harvesting all of the dynamics and creative ideas of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Jack White in order to deliver the same sound over and over again. To have that kind of power and to waste it on being a formula writer is no new thing but considering how famous he was there for a while, it disappoints me to think that so many people believe that what he communicated with Wolfmother is what Australian Music is all about, pure artistic plagiarism. For the most part people would be right to assume that because a lot of our modern and most popular bands are simple clones of more popular American or European artists but overall Australia has some brilliant music underneath all that and Wolfmother have damaged the reputation of that.

I’d be very disappointed if Wolfmother make it to album number four because after listening to “New Crown” it’s quite clear that Andrew Stockdale never had a voice or an original idea worth expressing and I’ve always felt he’d be more successful and comfortable being in a Led Zeppelin / Black Sabbath tribute band that could tour the RSL and local Pub circuit across Australia. That is where a band like Wolfmother would at least be believable because once again they have proved just what an epic waste of time their input to the global creative dialogue has been.

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Neil Finn – Album – “Dizzy Heights”

On his third solo album, Neil Finn illustrates that he has now managed to supersede Lennon and McCartney in terms of his extreme knack for writing some of the best pop music ever. Already known for his radio anthems courtesy of his days with Split Enz and Crowded House, on “Dizzy Heights” we get to witness Finn’s commitment to experimentation and for those who have stuck with him through “Try Whistling This,” “One Nil” and the recent Crowded House reunion albums “Time On Earth” and “Intriguer” you will once again be rewarded with a movement of music that is a timeless take on modern dynamics.

The one thing that stands out with “Dizzy Heights” is the production of Dave Fridmann who is most famous for his work with The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala. When Fridmann’s production is applied to Finn’s songwriting you get to hear a darker and rawer sounding version of the Neil Finn pop standards. There is a funk and ferocity to how this record is communicated and as is the case with an artist this deep into their career, there are the obvious reflections on mortality. For that reason alone this album contains some of Finn’s darkest songs. The sound of Finn’s voice and his ethereal melodies always connect to that deepest sigh in all of us and there a lot of spine tingling moments across “Dizzy Heights” were we are reminded why Neil Finn is so supremely regarded as a pioneering force in the pop music world.

I love the mood of this record; it is so fuzzed out yet soaked in bliss with a heavy dose of deep funk inspired grooves that push each song into psychedelic territory. It was bound to happen that if you paired Finn with Fridmann that you’d get music this deliciously infectious yet bizarre. Each song links into the next with a warm degree of still consistency allowing for a world of Finn soaked imagination to spread out and allow for maximum connection. There is a real mystery in the way that Finn can sing to your deepest wounds but also elevate your most beloved and joyous memories of existence. I imagine it is why so many people are fans of his music because it is hard not to make a deep connection to what he communicates as an artist.

From start to finish “Dizzy Heights” reminds the world of the relevance of an artist like Neil Finn and how he still has the ability to evolve his already strong creative dialogue by immersing himself into the modern landscape as an observer and then coming out the other side as a revised revolutionary who has once again re-invented a sound he helped shape. This album is a flawless illustration of experimental pop music from an artist who has nothing left to prove. The very fact that Neil Finn still pushes his sound this deep into experimental territory signals that his best work is still lingering in the atmosphere somewhere, waiting for him to patiently summons it through his muse. For now, just having “Dizzy Heights” is a gift that is soaked in pure divinity and an education on how to communicate music successfully.

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All Reviews By: Dan Newton


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