Andrew Stockdale has a look about him. The frontman for Sidney, Australia’s Wolfmother has that type of semi-puckered, ambiguously drug-addled face that begs to be captured by photographers in sepia print or crinkly black-and-white — the type of face you’d find tucked in the back of a dusty record store or cigarette burned on some pothead’s apartment wall. If anyone today is vying for the part of rock star, Stockdale certainly has the look.
But on the band’s second EP, Dimensions (four songs with two videos), the trio presents a strong and somewhat classically epic aesthetic that doesn’t quite match its oft-comparisons to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath — rock star or bust. Rather, Wolfmother comes across as a technically sound approximation of the bands it’s supposedly emulating. And why should we care that it’s not everything it should be?
Dimensions hits its snag in the power of each musician’s parts. Myles Heskett’s drumming often rolls without dramatic consequence or creative prowess (he’s no John Bonham), and Chris Ross’s bass feels muddy and basic at best (quite short of John Paul Jones). But these are both forgivable missteps (and unreasonable expectations) considering that Wolfmother, as a whole, makes solid, no-nonsense rock, the kind where simplicity is justified by exuberance and, for lack of a better word, fun.
Which brings us back to Stockdale, the boy who looks as if he’s made for this role. Stockdale’s wail and blues-riffed guitar work are on par with Jack White circa back-when-the-White-Stripes-didn’t-kinda-sorta-suck. Despite his talented vox, most of his singing sits somewhere short of what it promises. The best example of this is the opening half-howl of “Dimensions” or the purgatorial lull of “Mind’s Eye.” The intent is there. Stockdale wants the job. It just might be too early to tell if he can really pull out more substance to back up his rock-star image.
Wolfmother Web site (audio)Modular Records Web site (streaming audio)