Hit the road, Jack, if these Clouds don't rock your world

my way or the highway cvrMy Way Or The Highway – The Dark Clouds (self released)

It took ‘em a couple of goes but it’s finally recorded and released and it’s a triumph. The Dark Clouds’ second album “My Way Or The Highway” is as bombastic, in-your-face and rocking as you could have hoped.  

It’s seven years since “After The Sun” but cut ‘em some slack: a plague intervened and that managed to fuck up the plans of the best of us. The Wollongong band did convene in a studio in-between waves of COVID, but weren’t happy with the results.

“After The Sun” had its best moments when it wilfully matched the best Aussie underground sounds of the ‘80s to lyrics laced with wry societal observations. The state of rock and roll, the inane cult of celebrity and the dumber side of life in The Lucky Country all got their comeuppance, done in a style that nodded in multiple directions.  

Boil it down and The Dark Clouds were like an Antipodean Dictators, birthed in a steel processing plant in their hometown (the refinery is gone) instead of a Bronx tenement. They rocked, they rolled, came up with their share of hooks and they had character. 

They weren’t averse to stealing some of the Tators’ patented schtick but by no means was that the only card in their deck.

“My Way Or The Highway” gets a whole shade darker than “After The Sun”, with layers of scuzzier, metallic guitar splashed all over the place. Guitarist Terry “Thunder Clap” Callan  is well credentialled in that department; he nailed his colours to the mast as a founding member of The Proton Energy Pills in the ‘80s. His partner in crime is heavyweight Dark Clouds frontman TheDean, who reaches lower into his register and swaps his howl for a growl.  

The band sounds a degree tougher – and angrier. Maybe the false recording start has something to do with it or they’ve been listening to early Tubronegro. Bassist Richard “Hurricane” Higgins and drummer DC King don’t miss a trick. The Clouds sound like they blew out of Scandinavia in the early ‘90s - which is ironic as we all know where Sweden copped much of its sound from.

“Flak Jacket” out-Hellacopters the Hellacopters with its cast-iron rifferama and a momentary move into brooding shade. “Positively Negative” is a muscle car that’s been tuned down half a peg and spraypainted with shards of guitar and stuck on a jacked-up bottom end. Songs to drive a muscle car by abound.

TheDean gets a chance to stretch his vocal chords on “Educated Heathen” and doesn’t waste it. “1986 Rock n Roll” cools the tempo just a touch and comes on strong like Tators spin-off Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom. “Cruisin’ To The Nightlife” sets off on the prowl and soars on the back of some caustic Callan guitar.

“Pile Driver” is the heavy boogie sledgehammer that Rhino Bucket never wrote and lands a hefty left hook.

Production is by the band and New Christs member Brent Williams. Works for me. There are 31 minutes in the nine songs on “My Way Or The Highway” and they all count.  

They’re almost forgiven for liking The Angels. - The Barman

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Buy it 

 

"Positively Negative" kicks off "My Way Or The Highway", a sonic onslaught from Wollongong's bad boys of rock... who sadly are good guys.

In this, their second long player, they've actually improved on their riffage with a brutal onslaught of Oz rock. Brilliantly produced by guitarist Terry Callan and The New Christs' whiz kid Brent Williams, The Dark Clouds have delivered a rock album that is both sinister, yet fun and captures the band in all their glory.

This is an album for the lovers of The Dictators, Turbonegro and of course "Mad Max"... it's a COVID delayed follow up to 2017's "After The Sun" with a few interspersed singles including "MFP", which is a standout,

The Dark Clouds have delivered hard rock masterpieces like the ode to growing up in Wollongong "1986", and tales of the seedy side of Port Kembla, "Crusin' To The Nightlife", the contents of which has a nod to The Dictators' "Minnesota Strip".

In "Piledriver", The Clouds have covered "Musk" and delivered a slice of shredded rock for the ages. The Dark Clouds have ticked all the boxes... songs about cars, girls and guitars... should be more of it! - The Celebrity Roadie

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Tags: wollongong, turbonegro, proton energy pills, the dark clouds, my way or the highway

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