Demon Blues – Datura4 (Alive-Naturalsound)

demon bluesIt’s a truism that most record labels take a few releases to find their feet and assert their character and Patrick Boissel’s LA-based Alive-Naturalsound is no different.

Starting life as the Bomp-associated imprint Alive-Total Energy in the early ’90s with a deep dive into Detroit Rock, it’s reached extensively into garage, soul and power-pop territories to be a home to The Black Keys, Swamp Dogg and Paul Collins, among others.

But it’s in the area of hard-edged, ‘70s style guitar rock that has Alive has most recently found a happy niche, with the likes of Americans Buffalo Killers (semi-pastoral crunch) and Radio Moscow (Hendrix-tinged psych jams) especially standing out. They’ve now been joined by Datura4 from Fremantle, Western Australia.

Datura4 reunites two of the West Australian underground scene’s favourite sons in Dom Mariani (Stems, DM3) and Greg Hitchcock (You Am I, The Kryptonics, The Monarchs, The Bamboos, the New Christs.) Bandmates in the Go-Starts in their formative years, they’re working together to indulge a mutual love of hard ‘n’ heavy classic rock.

They’ve been around since 2008 but “Demon Blues” is Datura4’s debut and if you’re a fan of Buffalo, late-period Masters Apprentices (when they got proggy) or the venerable Lobby Loyde and his boogiefied Colored Balls it’ll grab you like a Torana driver’s handshake in the days before power steering. “Demon Blues” is ‘very 70s rock. There are saturated and overdriven guitars all over these 10 songs like a rash on a Led Zeppelin groupie.

There’s also a deftness and pop sensibility in the undertow. It’s a happy marriage of the hard-edged and the hooky. No surprise there. Mariani has, of course, long had the happy knack of pouring out rocking pop songs like Ted Nugent spits out inflammatory rhetoric and it’s still the case. Hitchcock is no stranger to pop either and he and Dom share the writing, guitar-playing and singing.

“Out With The Tide” kicks off the album with a reassuring crunch and some sinewy lead guitar before “You Ain’t No Friend Of Mine” runs away with a free-flowing riff and a Hitchcock vocal. “Another Planet” detours into whimsical psych-pop with Mariani taking the lead vocal.

Slide guitar rules supreme on “Pissin’ Up The Wall”, a big boogie stomper. “Journey Home” is a heavy duty rocker worthy of the Masters’ “A Toast To Panama Red”, “Hoonsville” a carpark racer that leaves burn-out rubber on the bitumen and “Demon Blues” a earthy grinder.

Neil might have beaten them to the title but Datura4’s “Love To Burn” cooks like an industrial-strength four-burner barbie without Crazy Horse’s admittedly often appealing clunkiness with an added touch of Blue Oyster Cult interplay. Crossed guitars at five paces.

Live, Datura4 has a rep for loose, jamming shows and there’s enough relaxed tightness in the playing on the record to keep the music continually interesting. Drummer Warren Hall (ex-Drones) and bassist Stu Loasby (a longtime Mariani collaborator) certainly deliver the goods.

“Demon Blues” is being given a king-sized push with a global publicity campaign and a preview through the Shindig (UK) and Rolling Stone (US and Australia) online platforms. With any luck they could show the kids there’s more to rock and roll than Nickleback. Now, please shoot me with a ball of my own shit for typing N______ and rock and roll in the same sentence. 

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