Wolfmother, Heartless Bastards

Led Zeppelin comparisons don't do either of these buzz bands good or justice. With Australia's Wolfmother (pictured), there's the small fact that they don't rock that hard, bluesy-ness and fuzz aside. The amiable yelp of singer-guitarist Andrew Stockdale is closer to the good-time wail of Chris Bell in Big Star than to any tender bat scream from Robert Plant or Ozzy—he could sing Leo Sayer songs. So the effect of would-be balls-out rock formalism such as Wolfmother's 2005 breakthrough "Woman" is anonymous camp. Maybe Stockdale suspected as much, because the new Cosmic Egg contains the seeds of a creative way out: "White Feather" is retro without being heavy, its harmonies evoking both Free's "All Right Now" and Boston's "More Than a Feeling" without copying either. Both Wolfmother and the Heartless Bastards are former trios stripped of two members to start over anew and expand around their singer-guitarist—"cosmic egg" refers to the singularity before the Big Bang. As it happens, Texas Ohioans the Heartless Bastards recorded their most back-chilling '00s punk-soul number, "Into the Open," with their previous lineup, but they nearly surpass it on several tracks across this year's third LP, The Mountain, the best being acoustic, with Erika Wennerstrom waxing as elemental about her hard-won optimism as Plant once did about his cock. With Thenewno2.
Sat., Nov. 14, 7 p.m., 2009

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