Australia has an identity complex. In the late 1700s, after America took England to the proverbial cleaners in the Revolutionary War, Her Majesty needed somewhere to store all of England's native scoundrels and scallywags who'd previously been housed in penal camps on American soil. Australia, with all its open desert and hot marsupial action, seemed like the perfect place to store a few thousand of England's snaggle-toothiest criminals.
Over the past two and a half centuries, the people of Australia have formed a strong sense of national identity (Foster's Beer, Crocodile Dundee, pictures of koalas on every-goddamn-thing). Judging by the music they've been putting out lately, however, it seems there's still a subconscious longing for the comforting embrace of Union Jack's bosom.
Wolfmother is the latest in a line of modern Australian bands that have taken to mimicking the sounds of some of England's most famous classic-rock acts. Jet tried to ape the new Rolling Stones. The Vines blatantly ripped off The Who. And now the afro'd white boys in Wolfmother are banking on the wailing thud-rock of Led Zeppelin.
The problem with modeling yourself after visionary trailblazers, however, is that there is very little chance of doing better what the others already did so well. Like Caddyshack II, these bands are sequels to phenomenal successes and barely even scratch the surface of the originals' greatness.
In fact, they hardly seem necessary at all.
Hopefully, Wolfmother will find their own unique voice for their subsequent recordings. Because a kangaroo dressed up like Henry XIII, while hilarious, is still just a kangaroo.
Wolfmother play Street Scene on Friday, Aug. 4.