SMOKE AND MIRRORS - The Datsuns (Hellsquad)
Following their previous studio effort "Outta Sight/Outtamind" which garnered mostly less than favourable critcial reaction, The Datsuns return with a revitalising return to earlier high energy hard rockin' heights. There are also some impressive ventures into previously unchartered musical territory.
"Who Are You Stamping Your Foot For" and "System Overload" open the album in a manner fans of their earlier recordings will be pleased with. "Stampin...' features some tasty organ and "Overload" augmented with psych-inspired synthesizer sounds.
"Waiting For Your Time To Come" and "Stuck Here For Days" are the first signs that this is a band pushing the boundaries. "Waiting..." is likely to draw comparisons to the Who-inspired You Am I, with a few more psych-inspired sounds from guitarists Christian Datsun and Phil Datsun. "Stuck", on the other hand, and its raucous
slide guitar work brings to mind Lynyrd Sknyrd.
"Maximum Heartache" couples more high energy hard rock with tasty soulful guest female backing vocals,reminiscent of Lisa Kekaula of The BellRays. Ditto "All Aboard" with a drop in tempo and volume and the return of slide.
"Emperor's New Clothes" is another high-energy, hard rockin' highlight, followed by the epic closer "Too Little Fire" (cue: more of the soulful female vocals). This is a track that suggests the likes of Led Zeppelin in their guitar driven epics.
Just like Melbourne hard rock brethren The Casanovas have done with their recent "All Night Long" CDLP, The Datsuns have released "Smoke and Mirrors" in two editions with one including a bonus DVD featuring a tour documentary and video clips for "System Overload" and "Stuck Here For Days".
The Datsuns should both regain favour with those that found their previous studio effort lacking and at times this album marks a revitalising return to earlier high energy hard rockin' heights. - Simon Li
OUTTA SIGHT/OUTTA MIND – The Datsuns (In-Fidelity/Hitsquad)
This is another one of those Don't Tell Me It's Another Nu Rock Saviour Band Reviews...
Along with a lot of people on the fringes, there was a subconscious desire to hate this record. But after an hour on the psychiatrist’s couch, much outpatient counselling, a Bex, a cup of tea and a good lie down, most feelings of guilt for having this in the CD player have been purged quicker than yesterday’s liquid lunch. It clearly rocks, which is the thing that should matter, so I suppose you can charge your glasses and shake your arses…
Never paid much attention to the Datsuns’ first album. It sounded too forced. Plus, the anti-hype meter kicked in after a trip to the US where point-of-sale material crowded almost every music store visited (and there were plenty). The push was on to break these New Zealanders, big-time, in the potentially most lucrative but hardest musical market in the world. (Cue: Vision of a grotty tour van – a Datsun, of course - and a road that goes on forever).
Big on riffs and hair (they look the part, as well as sound it), The Datsuns are a mean-sounding, twin-guitar four-piece who slot easily into the mould the mainstream reserves for the so-called Nu Rock bands. Plus, they’re young(er) looking white boys, making them eminently more marketable and VH1-friendly than a band of older, mixed bloodline vets like The Dragons, for example, who mine similar musical turf. Having a bloke called John Paul Jones along for as producer can’t lose points with the older demographic metal crowd, either.
How’s it sound? There’s a heavy reliance on substantial riffage (but you knew that already) to the point of the lead guitar parts dominating. These are angular songs with occasional singalong choruses and not a lot of melody, the exception being the almost Hoodoo Guru-like rock-popper, “What I’ve Lost”, whose lighter touch is a welcome mid-album respite. The harmonics in the bridge show the Datsuns to be more than one-trick ponys. Then you get your nose slammed into more familiar turf with a balls-out rocker like “You Can’t Find Me”. (So what did you expect? Journey?)
Production is generally live and in your face with the guitar and vocal right up front. This is crunchy, hard rock with a feel of glam. Sometimes, it sounds just a little too slick. Pressed for a comparator, you could try The Riverboat Gamblers – with a bit of the grime removed. Energy levels are generally high.
The main reservation is singer Dolf Datsun’s lapses into Robert Plant-type vocal histrionics. It’s not the John Paul Jones influence either; he was doing it long before this album. That’s the sort of thing you can live with or detest. I still find myself giving tracks like “Blacken My Thumb”, the bombastic “Cherry Lane”, the boofheadishly simple “Messin’ Around” and the new wavish “Girl’s Best Friend” a spin. I don’t know that there’s a lot of depth to The Datsuns – the nagging feeling is there that the songs just aren’t that memorable. Still, more Bar patrons will give this the thumbs up than the Big A. – The Barman
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