A 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.
In no particular order, The Barman’s Top 12 albums of 2019: “So I Could Have Them Destroyed” – The Hard-Ons (Music Farmers) You could say “What a comeback!” but only if they’d really gone away. So much variety yet it hangs together so well.
“The Devil Won't Take Charity” - Kim Volkman and the Whiskey Priests (Beast Records) Kim and his band have that Stonesy-Keef vibe down pat. Raunch and roll.
“Mystery Train” – Chickenstones (Crankinhaus Records) Sydney’s best kept secret. Doc might be driving the bus but Preacher Phil really steps up. Soulful and abrasive tunes played with heart.
“Shake Yer Popboomerang Vol 3” - Various Artists (Popboomerang) Some of the material back-tracks but it’s a collection of rolled gold. Aussie power pop for the ages.
“Black Door” – The Volcanics (Citadel) High-energy, passion and variety. Their best to date. The Volcanics are truly a world class band.
“The Aints! Play The Saints” - The Aints! (Fatal Records) Will we ever see their faces again? Maybe. Maybe not. This is a white-hot snapshot of what they delivered live.
“Ann Arbor Revival Meeting” - Scott Morgan’s Powertrane featuring Deniz Tek & Ron Asheton (Grown Up Wrong) As historical artefacts go, this is as good as they get. It’s a generously appointed re-issue of a stellar, all-star show.
Rule My World b/w Phoenix - Datura4 (Alive Natural Sound)
Perth’s Datura4 grows in stature with each release and this single, issued in tandem with the latest album, kicks major sonic arse. “Rule My World” is a swaggering chunk of ‘70s raunch and only otherwise available on the CD version of “West Coast Highway Cosmic”. Warren Hall’s stuttering drum pattern summons the tune to life and Howard Smallman’s harp is the icing on the boogie cake. It's canny Dom Mariani pop with a ‘70s vibe.
The B side is exclusive to the 45 and is a suave instrumental, with some Bob Patient organ that’s cooler than a 1972 bottle of 4711 Ice Cologne on a February Perth aftwrnoon. Some wiry Mariani guitar lines take it out. There are just 300 numbered copies worldwide and you can find yours here if you’re in Australia, or here if you’re not.
I couldn’t find a clear winner for Gig of the Year for 2018. Here are 10 that were special.
TODD RUNDGREN – Oxford Art Factory.His Toddness, the runt ,the hermit of Milk Hollow. Backed by a cracking band Davey Lane’s Drunken Blue Roosters, Todd took us from The Nazz, through his AM hits and on a detour to play many songs he admitted to not having played live for some time, if at all. Great songs, top musicianship and Todd really seemed to be enjoying himself.
The Celebrity Roadie informs The Barman that he can't go out in public like that. As usual, he's ignored. Kyleigh Pitcher photo.
This is a Top Ten of two parts. First, live gigs, and second, albums. You know. Second part, different from the first.The rule of not reviewing my own gigs goes right out the door from the get-go. Got an issue with that? See you in the carpark...
Chris Masuak and the Sydney City Wave Riders:This was a sensational run of shows- a mini-tour in and around Sydney because that’s all that time allowed - by Klondike and his crack band of Tony Bambach (bass) and Stuart Wilson (drums). Great players, top blokes. Armed with a killer setlist drawing on most of Chris’s back catalogue, the guys fired from the get go. Many of the versions surpassed the originals with Maz playing two guitar parts, as few people can. The shows blew away much of the skullduggery and malakarey involved with certain ghosts from the recent past.
HITS at Marrickville BowloYou can’t keep playing the same old songs or you’ll get staid and there’s no sign of HITS doing that just yet. Members are now scattered the length of the East Coast so it can’t be easy getting together…or maybe that’s a blessing in disguise because it keeps things fresh. They continue to be THE Aussie band to follow.
It's Album Number Three for the blues-psych-boogie West Australian combo built by Dom Mariani (The Stems, DM3) and mates and it’s like the members sat in a studio and conspired to make everything heavier than what came before. If you want to be technical, they set the pan pots to Full-On Raunch and slammed the faders waaaay up to 11. All while wearing double denim.
While "Demon Blues" and "Hairy Mountain" had their feet stubbornly wedged in the mud of a rain-soaked Sunbury Festival paddock, "Blessed Is The Boogie" dives into the back of a Holden Sandman and posts a "If it's rocking, don't bother knocking" sign on the curtained back window and goes about its business.
To coincide with The Stems’ 30th anniversary tour celebrating the release of their 1987 debut LP "At First Sight Violets are Blue", Citadel Records is re-issuing the long deleted album as a limited digipak edition CD on November 3. The album has been digitally re-mastered and includes three bonus tracks. A vinyl reissue will see light of day early next year. Originally released through Mushroom Records' off-shoot White Label, the album was first pressed in mid-1987. The title track and subsequent singles “For Always” and “Sad Girl” gained mainstream airplay – a big call for an underground band back then. The Stems influenced a host of new local bands playing '60s garage rock and roll.
Robbie Harrold photo
One of the album highlights of 2016 was "Demon Blues", the debut release by Perth-based rock-psych-boogie band Datura4.
A quartet led by Stems/DM3 songwriter Dom Mariani and ex-New Christs, You Am I, Bamboos and Monarchs guitarist Greg Hitchcock, With Stu Loasby (bass) and Warren Hall (drums) completing the line-up, Datura4 conjure a heady mix of guitar-raunch 'n' roll and heavy melodic jams - in the tradition of the Colored Balls and Masters Apprentices, yet unlike any other Australian band currently treading the boards.
Their second album "Hairy Mountain" has recently been unleashed by US label Alive Natural Sounds and we chased down Dom Mariani for a brief grilling, ahead of a quick-fire tour of Australia's East Coast.
Internationally acclaimed West Australian boogie masters Datura4are set to tour the east coast of Australia for the first time in six years on the success of their fifth album, “Neanderthal Jam”.
Datura4 is fronted by Dom Mariani of legendary Oz garage rockers The Stems, With plans to tour Europe in the latter part of 2023, the April tour will be their first time back since 2017.
The band will play four shows across New South Wales and Victoria, including an appearance at the prestigious Gum Ball Festival in the Hunter Valley and a Sydney show with returning platinum-selling Canadian act The Sheepdogs. Datura4 finds Dom Mariani rediscovering the heavy and progressive blues sounds he loved as a teenager - bands like Led Zeppelin, Ten Years After andt he Groundhogs, Aus bands like Carson, Masters Apprentices, Chain, Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs and Perth locals Bakery.
Dom has even added an authentic ‘70s blues-rocker to his band – keyboard player Bob Patient is a one-time member of heavy prog rockers Fatty Lumpkin, a later day member of Matt Taylor's Chain and more recently a sideman of Perth’s internationally revered slide guitarist Dave Hole.
APRILFriday 21- Great Club Sydney (w/ The Sheepdogs) - TixSaturday 22 -, Gumball Festival - TixSunday 23- Barwon Club Geelong - Tix Monday 24- Cherry Melbourne (special guests - The Gas Babies) - Tix
Mickster Baty at home in his Off The Hip shop.
The music industry is a shallow trench full of sharks and transient imprints, to paraphrase Hunter S Thompson. Independent record labels come and go with the regularity of manufactured reality TV stars and only a few manage to find their niche and prosper. In Australia, only Citadel is still standing from the halycon days of the 1980s. A few rose in the '90s to fill the gaps left by the demise of Phantom and Waterfront. Since the 2000s, the most enduring has been Melbourne-based Off The Hip.
Off The Hip grew out co-founder Mick ("Mickster") Baty's love of all things garage rock, powerpop and psychedelia. A drummer and veteran of one of Sydney's finest garage-trash outfits, The Crusaders, he went on to killer powerpop bands The Pyramidiacs and The Finkers. Baty saw Off The Hip as an outlet for his own music. He had re-located to Melbourne by then and formed The Stoneage Hearts, a shifting cast of players who produced top-shelf garage rock with a pop bent.
A retail operaiton operating out of his house morphed into a bricks-and-mortar shop in Melbourne's CBD and a floodgate of releases via the fledgling label ensued. It's been an enduring success - on its own terms - since then. Off The Hip - the label and the shop - have inspired and contrinuted to the existence and growth of hundreds of bands.
Last month, the Off The Hip label celebrated its 15th birthday. We decided it was high-time for Mickster to occupy the interview seat.
West Coast Highway Cosmic - Datura4 (Alive Natural Sound)
From the opening title track, Datura4 roars into life like a modern-day Steppenwolf. They’re all Hammond organ, vintage synths and a rock band, intent on making a statement.
Datura4 employ a massive wall of sound that departs from Dom Mariani's preferred '60s space into late '60s-early '70s, Deep Purple shtick - without the overindulgence of Ritchie Blackmore. Datura4 still displays its garage roots, but is a blend of Arizona desert rock a la early Alice Cooper... albeit updated with modern sounds.
Vocal melodies and rippling guitars never get old. “Into The Sun” originally came out in 2000, on the ubiquitous US-Australian label Zip Records and has been re-issued by Off The Hip, 18 years later.
It sounds fresher than a couple of teenagers in the back row of a movie theatre on a first date sponsored by Colgate and Listerine, and could have been recorded a week ago.
Some context: Danny McDonald is only a little bloke but he’s a towering talent of Aussie powerpop. After doing his best to crack the mainstream charts while leading P76 and the preceding Jericho, as well as 18 months as a hired hand for Oscarlima, he took a step back, to life in rural Victora, and raise a family. And record and release three excellent albums under his own name.
It’s been a long time between drinks but the DM3 cocktail remains as sweet as ever, without losing any of its bite. This limited edition, double A-sided 45 shows off the Fremantle trio’s trademark tight harmonies and guitar-fuelled melodies, just right.
The term “jam band” first flashed across my radar in a small bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the early ‘00s. It was in a pub called The Eight Ball, underneath the much more famous Blind Pig. I was lucky enough to be sharing a drink with Scott Morgan. (Ooops. I dropped a name.)
“Who’s playing upstairs tonight?”
“Some jam band.”
The Stems, Perth's most popular and iconic 80s garage rock band, celebrated the 30th anniversary of the release of their classic debut album "At First Sight Violets are Blue" with a successful all Australian capital cities tour in November 2017. To coincide with the tour, "At First Sight Violets are Blue" was reissued as a limited edition tour CD.
The tour garnered enough interest in Europe for Spain’s Fuzzville Festival to make an offer for them to appear at the festival. More shows naturally followed and the band are now set to embark for a three week European tour over April/May which will cover Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and the UK. The UK leg includes a show at London's historic 100 Club.
“Black Speakers”, the new single for Perth’s retro rocking and extremely potent Datura4, the current vehicle for The Stemsleader Dom Mariani, is making its world debut here, and the new album is not far away.
“Black Speakers” was preceded by the dark and heavy blues-based thumper "Secret Society" and "Going Back To Hoonsville" (the non-LP version of which features Perth blues Legend Dave Hole on slide guitar) and "Open The Line".
"Open The Line" was chosen as "The Coolest Song in the World" by Stevie Van Zandt aka Little Steven on his influential and much-loved rock'n'roll radio channel on SiriusXM, “The Underground Garage”. Dom, who is a long-time favourite of Stevie's, was also interviewed on the channel on their weekly "Coolest Conversations" spot.
The "Neanderthal Jam" album is the band's fifth long-player and will be out on US label Alive/ Records on August 26. It will be distributed in Australia by MGM. You can pre-order splatter vinyl from the US here.