Ozone St - Los Dominados (Ejected Records)
This record is so damned cool. So damned ultra-cool.
It’s sorta- like the late ’80s indie punk art of Sonic Youth with its rocky side exposed, combined with The Pixies and with the classic English rock pop of T-Rex thrown in. There’s even a nod to US ‘60s girl pop and urban country twang. It stayed in my CD player for a few weeks, and I keep hitting the the play again.
Los Dominados is essentially a band formed from the remnants of Moler, who mixed it up as a grungy, power pop band playing hip, street-level music with tough lyrics in the late ‘90s. Twenty years later, there’s been a vast development in song-writing - as shown in this, the band’s fourth album. We find a broader tapestry of influences and the band members have learned a lot about minimalism as well as using dark and light shade. And about sophistication.
Once a bass-less trio and now a four-pieces, Los Dominados released a highly ignored, swampy Cramps-like track “Venus” a couple of years ago. At the heart of the band is Helen Cattananch on bass and vocals (aka Miss Hellcat), Michael Alonso, Harold Fisher and Blake.
“He So Fine” opens the proceedings. Classic minimalism with a two note lead; it’s punk when punk was cool and melodic. This could be a single from 1977. Think X Ray Spex with Wire’s sharp-jabbing rhythm section. At the centre is Helen’s sultry vocal performance. It builds to an ending of classic feedback.
“Leave Me Never” chugs along and breaks out into a splash of melody. I am now singing along. As the guitars breaks into a goddamn perfect melody as the middle-eight explodes.
“Hurt so Much“: Wow, now we now taken off into the territory of Blondie’s first album. What I mean is it has the same influences like classic doo-wop and female pop, along with images of innocence like teenage pecking at the drive in. I can see wonderful images of pretty girls in ponytails and sharp boys with carnations on lapels. I reckon Debbie Harry would have sold her soul to write a song like this in 1976.
“Motorcross” opens as it comes from classic Pixies “Bosonova” period. Laidback and slow movements…floating like a corpse in a lake. That is where the comparison ends. That wonderful Telecaster twangs with the slant of a David Lynch soundtrack. Helen whispers her vocals…a dangerous monologue that is so dark, we feel someone’s innocence is being taken to a place of no return. The image is ultimately one of boganism, motocross and bottom feeders. With cheap liquor involved. There something quite disturbing about this song.
“Know How To Be” is sleepy and melodic with a big nod to country. Nice, big and full open chords, it has a sense of a campfire singalong. Again, this is just faultless songwriting with a most wonderful vocal hook and a tasteful bass note guitar solo.
“Sins of Her Father”: After a light moment we return to darkness with much denser production and bell-like guitars. The lyrics, again, are chilling and you sense them hitting a darker place. “Time to pack your things,” Helen declares. I can see the door slamming. It’’s all over, seems to bookend these songs. And there is that classic swampy, Melbourne bar room swagger that this city is the best at producing.
The recording itself suffers a bit as it is a little brittle and lacks the warmth (I am curious how it was mastered) That said, it is hard for bands with tight budgets. If I overlook that and listen to the performance and songs…there is such terrific songwriting on this album. I love this record; Los Dominates are very talented folk and they will be first on my on list of bands in Melbourne to check out again.
So what gets me most about this album…it’s so cool. It draws on some many influences, yet none are directly obvious. Maybe it’s a record that Australia wanted to hear in 1990. People were grasping for bands of their ilk and it was an era when quality and original music found a large audience. And bands packed out The Tote in Melbourne and Sydney’s Annandale not once but over a couple of nights in row.
All bands can do now is keep producing quality music (as Los Dominados does) and keep their fingers crossed that an overseas label picks them up and they can head offshore…