It's a close race at breakneck speed, but Wolfmother's escalation in popularity appears to be outpacing the growth of the trio's wild, untamed Afros by just a hair. Since the band's self-titled debut full-length only came out this week, it would be easy to mistake kudos for the Sydney, Australia, threesome as mere hot air from the hype machine, but no -- this is rock solid. Preceding the stateside buzz that's been swirling around Wolfmother -- thanks to an EP full of thunderous, early-'70s-flavored riffs and some impossibly packed shows at South by Southwest -- is grade-A certified double-platinum status across the Pacific, back on the band's home turf. Blame it on a perfect storm of vintage sounds: beefy, MC5-gone-evil chords; trippy organ interludes pointing to prog rock and Ray Manzarek; and acid-fantasy lyrics about unicorns, witchcraft, and purple haze. And who knows -- maybe the band inhaled some historic dust while rehearsing last year at Hollywood's Cherokee studio, where Pink Floyd built The Wall back in the day. In an ever-so-brief nod to the modern, Wolfmother flirts with the White Stripes' sloppy punk blues, but on most songs, huge, hard guitars gallop deep into Black Sabbath territory right along with front man Andrew Stockdale's grandiose, Robert Plant-meets-Ozzy wail. Familiar sounds, no doubt, but ones belonging to a previous generation of stoners. It's time they get a second wind.


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