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| 18 September 2019 | Reply

Alive Natural Sound Records, April 2019
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

It starts with a riff. A riff which is pure heavy boogie metal, but rest assured Datura4 – Dom Mariani’s four-piece outfit from the edge of the world, Fremantle, Western Australia – has none of the turgidness inherent in so much heavy metal (I should know – I’ve been a metalhead for almost forty years).

The riff in question leads Black Dog Keep Running, the opening track of Datura4’s third album, Blessed Is The Boogie, and in Mariani’s hands it beats like a still-alive heart. This is the guy who crafted counter-culture-cool hits with indie legends The Stems, The DM3, The Majestic Kelp, The Domnicks and more, remember: his references are impeccable.

Some reviewers have compared Datura4 with the likes of Savoy Brown and Wishbone Ash, but since I have little intimate knowledge of these acts my own touchstones for the band’s heavy southern (that’s southern as in underneath the Southern Cross) boogie are Lobby Lloyd’s Coloured Balls, Buffalo and Billy Thorpe’s Aztecs.

The title track lays down the pious gospel according to these boogie-worshipping rockers, while Looper creates a swirling stoner sensibility with a ‘60s psych groove. Run With Lucy is brighter, more upbeat, almost a pop song in heavy boogie wolf’s clothing (albeit a pop song with a killer slide guitar solo), while Ooh Poo Pah Do – the Jessie Hill classic which Thorpie made a signature tune of in the ‘70s – is reinvented in pure Datura4 style.

Evil People Pt 2 is almost trance-like, intense and pulsating, while Not For Me is right-on psych rock, showcasing how bloody fucking great this band really are. Mariani may be the top cat here, but the superbly watertight bass and drums of Stu Loasby and Warren Hill equal their weight in gold. All are well credentialed stalwarts of the West Oz music scene, and none miss a beat.

Mariani’s lead guitar almost floats through Not For Me, hypnotising the listener, and (not so) new (ish) member Bob Patient’s pulsating organ – more Booker T than Jon Lord, FYI – is a joy throughout the entire record. Just listen to it on the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-a-pop-song Cat On A Roof.

These last few tracks signpost a change in direction for Datura4. Sure, the heavy boogie is at the core of what they do, but there’s a lighter touch to these songs, a more sprawling approach to them, with the focus shifting from riffs to solos. I’m not sure how else to describe the change in feel, but I know I like it.

And then, before you know it, we’re at the end, with The City Of Lights closing out the record. I’m pretty sure it’s about Perth & Fremantle – “the city of lights” – but there’s a Los Angeles feel to it, making it somehow laid back and intense consecutively. We do, after all, have a lot in common with L.A. – West coast towns heated by the hot winds blown in from the central deserts, our towns are both suburban sprawls, and this song meanders leisurely as if flying over their hometown, admiring the sights and the comfort that gives them.

Like this album, that’s a potent feeling, and after bouncing between a myriad of bands for years, it seems Mariani has finally found his passion project (at least, for now). The band are currently in the studio working on a fourth album, and it is much anticipated already.

Category: CD Reviews

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