|Datura 4 – ‘Hairy Mountain’ (Alive Naturalsound Records)|
|Written by Jonathan Kardasz|
|Wednesday, 23 November 2016 03:30|
Depending on your demographic Australian rock music is probably gonna mean AC/DC, INXS or Midnight Oil; or Jet and Tracer (or maybe even Crowded House), but dig a little deeper and there’s also a rich seam of trippy psychedelic bands filling the world with fuzzy hefty yet catchy rock that’s not quite metal and not hard rock but somewhere in between.
Somewhere that’s more fun than just sticking to the obvious tropes of those genres and turning them in to tired cliches. Datura 4 (Dom Mariani, vocals and guitar, Greg Hitchcock, vocals and guitar, Warren Hall, drums and Stu Loasby, bass) are one such band and ‘Hairy Mountain’ is their second full length recording out on Alive Naturalsound Records.
Album opener ‘Fools Gold Rush’ is a great understated opening – a slippery chorus blossoming from a bed of fuzzy guitars and with a nice wiggly guitar lead throughout, plenty of soloing too. It’s an instant indication of where this album’s at, laid back; groovesome; a tight band of musicians playing it slack.
The band are in thrall to the classic sounds of the Seventies and yet bring a fresh take with a nice crisp production and songs that worm their way in to your psyche. Sure there’s a coupla choruses that stick after the first play, but give it a dozen plays and the craftsmanship in the songs really reveals itself, unfolding as you find the delights buried within – musically & lyrically.
Title track ‘Hairy Mountain’ sums up the Seventies ambience beautifully, the author “Making my way down a hairy mountain…with a tail wind behind my bike, I’m looking for a chief to smoke the peace pipe” and just reeks of patchouli oil, bell bottoms and ‘Easy Rider’. Although it’s mostly a laid back effort there’s a gratifying change of pace with a classic head banging coda. Mind you it’s not all the sunny vibe of the post-Woodstock Seventies as ‘Something to Hide’ hints at the Watergate Seventies with its paranoid lyrics: a fuzzy cut with a trippy finale, it’s marching beat undelaying an almost continuous solo.
It’s not all laid back though, ‘Mary Caroll Park’ is a banger: a driving beat; beautiful slide guitar sounding like a slightly more polite Rose Tattoo (not an insult, the cut is just a touch lighter than the Tatt’s signature sound but still redolent of their vibe) and a guaranteed floor filler. There are some twists lyrically too, it’s not all joss sticks and hanging out: ‘Greedy World’ is a swaggering Stonesy cut that (possibly) references the Ditty Digger himself - “Got a mansion by the sea…Got a monkey for a chauffeur…Got my own jet airliner to fly me round the world…Got my own newspaper…Got my very own Page Three girl…Got my own snake oil company I’m worth a trillion dollars but it’s not enough for me”. Surely those words could only be describing good ole Rupert Murdoch?
‘Trolls’ too steps away from the sunshine lyrics with menacing sci-fi guitar and a lyric slating, well, the trolls that try and bring us all down. It’s a hidden gem, a slow burning ear worm and proves again how the album bears repeated listening for full satisfaction. ‘Broken Path’ is woozy lazy psyche pop and a welcome palate cleanser amongst the riffs, the paranoia and the heavier lyrics; a little beauty of tune that would (deservedly) go massive if placed in the right high profile telly show or film.
‘Confide in Me’ breaks through on the first play – it’s a natural catchy single, throw some sequins and glitter on it and you’d have a hit glam single that could stand shoulder to shoulder (on wobbly stack heels natch) alongside Slade or The Sweet. ‘Too Much (or Not Enough)’ is the closest the band get to a misfire, a catchy tune but not as fulfilling as the rest of the offerings on the disc. On the other hand, ‘Uphill Climb’ is another tune with a slow fuse, revealing its delights about the fourth time around. A beautifully synched riff n chorus with some of the best wiggy guitar workouts on the record. And some fabulous shaker too.
It’s easy to stick to what you know, to buy the latest release from an established band; to buy the latest pick from the usual magazines’ recommendations or to grab something hyped by the radio stations, but take a chance, take a step away from the masses and buy this album. You won’t be disappointed.