alive natural sounds - The I-94 Bar

Hairy Mountain - Datura4 (Alive Natural Sounds)

hairy mountainA debut as strong as “Demon Blues” was always going to be hard to top, but but Perth’s hard rock combo extraordinaire Datura4 has scaled that mountain seemingly without trouble.

There’s a deeper psychedelic vein running through “Hairy Mountain” than its predecessor and the songs are just a touch stronger. Dom Mariani and Greg Hitchcock have solidified what was probably a fun idea involving teenage bandmates reuniting into a serious guitar partnership with some scorching sonic explorations. And the gun rhythm section of Warren Hall (drums) and Stu Loasby sounds in command and totally at home.

Bigger Than Life - Jack Lee (Alive Natural Sounds)

bigger than lifeIf Jack Lee went to his grave only known as the guy who wrote the Blondie hit “Hanging On the Telephone” he’d be more noteworthy than all of us combined and then some. The irony is that only music publishing houses and fans of his former band, The Nerves, would know this. Sad, but that’s the state of music in the ‘00s.

Just the facts: Their recorded output was scant but The Nerves were one helluva great power-pop band, operating out of LA in the mid-‘70s, and Jack Lee was (and probably still is) a consummate songwriter. Lee formed The Nerves and played guitar. His similarly talented bandmates were Peter Case (bass) and Paul Collins (drums.) They all sang and wrote the songs. That’s probably too much talent for one band and of course they didn’t last long…

Everything’s Gonna Be Alright – Handsome Jack (Alive Naturalsounds)

eveythings gonna be alrightA word about words: Albums should be all about music, but descriptors count because they convey an identifiable concept of what the music sounds like. Lockport, New York, Handsome Jack’s record label, Alive Naturalsounds, calls them “boogie soul”. That cap fits…so you know the rest about wearing it.

Fourteen years into the game and “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” is the third long-player for Handsome Jack since they kicked off as a trio of precocious teens in a ubiquitous garage. Two of the three members remain - drummer Bennie Hayes is a newcomer - and while stability like that is a rarity, it’s also a virtue.

Guitarist Jamison Passuite summons up John Fogerty with his rich and resonant vocal on opening track “Keep On”; other places he echoes Southern rock and Stax soul. Throw in some Delta blues and the rest of this sure-footed, grooving album doesn’t stray far from the inspirational well. Many, if not most, of their influences seem to have been around before these guys were born. Is that a bad thing?

Inside The Flesh Hotel - Beechwood (Alive Natural Sounds)

flesh hotelPull up a chair, crack a beer and let’s have a bet. Bukowski would. There are short odds on offer, my friend, that Beechwood is your new favourite band - even if you haven’t heard them yet. 

Bukowzki was from the other side of the USA,  as this trio from Brooklyn, NYC, the buzz on whom is substantial but not undeserved. It’s picked up momentum to move past a dull roar, even in these times of fragmented public communication. A recent European tour left the French, in particular, in raptures. See herefor proof. 

You ever read Bukowski? Full of extremes, for sure, but also littered with patches of light and shade. Much like the sound of Beechwood. It isn’t easily categorised; there are so many stylistic threads coming together that you’ll die trying. A sometimes languid flow of vaguely ‘60s pop and psych elements runs right through it. Concise songs full of variety but somehow linked together.