Datura4 | West Coast Highway Cosmic | (Alive Naturalsound Records)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
The often cited music critic’s cliché is that some artists wear their influences on their sleeves. Expanding that concept, Australia’s Datura4 proudly wears its influences like a full length overcoat.
The fourth album from this prolific quartet (named after a poisonous flower) in five years dives deeper into their 70s rock influences. Recently added keyboardist Bob Patient’s swirling organ is straight out of the rich Deep Purple, Steppenwolf and Blue Oyster Cult catalog. It’s often his playing that propels the riff heavy content of these ten tracks and injects even more retro vibe than the band already exuded on its previous three releases. Anyone who thought Golden Earring should have stopped recording after “Radar Love” will gravitate to the blues based boogie and thick guitar/keyboard heavy rock waters that Datura4 swims in.
Lyrically this band of Aussie rock veterans isn’t going to give Bob Dylan any sleepless nights as they sing about monsters (“Wolfman Woogie”), evil people (“some people are good people/but some people they’re just evil”), passionate love (“You roll me babe/You rule my world you rock me”)…well, you get the picture. None of that makes a difference because no one looks to Datura4 for philosophical revelations.
Rather it’s the band’s commitment to their 70s forbearers which, in addition to the aforementioned ones, also includes T. Rex (“A Darker Shade of Brown”), the boogie rocking side of Mott The Hoople (“Get Out”) and even Canned Heat for the scuzz blues with Paul Butterfield styled amplified harp of “You Rule My World.” Frontman/guitarist Dom Mariani doesn’t have a powerful voice but he puts these hooky songs over with an enthusiasm and commitment shared with those in what must be an impressive 70s vinyl collection. The interaction of his lead and rhythm playing with Patient’s pulsating organ infuses this music with its caffeinated energy and meaty emotional push.
The “West Coast Highway” in the album’s title refers to the geographical section of Australia (where the album was recorded), not California. Still, there’s no denying the “cosmic” psychedelic threads running through everything. There are no weighty concepts at work, but lots of heavy playing on a batch of songs that go down easy. Datura4 should pump up the volume at any party whose participants are either over 60 or just love the music of the era known for black lights, skin tight trousers, beards and waist long hair.
Push play and let it rip.