Hit the road, Jack, if these Clouds don't rock your world
My Way Or The Highway – The Dark Clouds (self released)
When I was a little chap, I was in England and received a tip to listen to the John Peel show on the radio.
Those shows have stayed with me; Peely was a distinctly dotty individual with broad and peculiar taste. The BBC tried hard to get him to quit by stuffing him into unlikely slots and wishing his fans would fuck off. I recall, however, one show in which only a couple of songs had made a mark on me (one was by The Outcasts, one was the Cure's first single), and then, right at the end, he played The Sex Pistols.
Good god, that really cleared the sinuses. There was a clarity about the band, a rawness which hardly any other band possessed at the time.
The Dark Clouds' brand of rock'n'roll will be familiar to most ligging Sydneysiders. It's powerful, structured, sharp, heavy and has the feel of a speeding mining truck about to lose control ... but it never does. The Dark Clouds ain't the Pistols, but by god, do they clear the sinuses.
“My Way or the Highway'”is a virtuoso display of how to make songs rip, curl, snap-turn on a thin dime and generally raise hell and get everyone moving. The Dark Clouds are one of about four Sydney bands I've never seen and are absolutely on the bucket-list - must-see before I snuff it.
For the first time since I've been reviewing here, I'm gonna quote The Barman:
No matter how much blandness and homogenisation is foisted on us, how many live music venues are shut or emasculated or how many mind-numbing reality TV talent shows are injected into our lives, we need to hang onto the remnants of things that matter. The Dark Clouds will remind you that rock and roll is one of them. The Dark Clouds play hard rock anthems in work boots.
I know metal guitarists who got their start by hearing Guns'n'Roses. And then, discovering an entire pantheon of rock'n'roll. That covers thing G'n'R did years back opened floodgates for a generation of kids whose only experience of r'n'r was ... shall we say ... anodyne.
The Gunners (and, hell, Acca Dacca) should listen to The Dark Clouds, they'd instantly become relevant, and a damn sight more enjoyable.
Put simply, “My Way or the Highway” starts by walloping you about the head and, apart from a few timed pauses to fool you, just doesn't stop. The Dark Clouds are a force of nature, a tsunami of rock and roll. Pick any song here and you're instantly hooked.
Now, I've been listening a lot more closely to singer's voices lately, and The Dean's just blows me away. All that range! There are times when he whispers, others when he sounds like eighty thicknesses of wet hessian being torn across by Mothra. Like Christopher Marshall, the man is an unjustly unknown but mighty vocalist in Australian rock (how I do wish Barnsey fans could hear both Marshall and The Dean).Sometimes he sounds a touch like Stiv Bators, others like Iggy - but that's really just the tip of the iceberg and really gives you no clue. One song has the most monumental scream. You'll have to buy it to get there though.
Musically, the outfit are tight and huge, with simplicity intersected with rather glorious solo-things.
I want The Dark Clouds as my local band so's I can see them every week. So do you.
While I can't believe our current Prime Minister has heard The Dark Clouds, I can just see him thrashing to them in the front row, and wearing their shirt on Australian band T-shirt day or whatever it's called.
It's up to you to get this band above ground.
They're playing La La La's in Wollongong on Friday, January 13. I so wish I could go. - Robert Brokenmouth
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
"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
Tags: wollongong, turbonegro, proton energy pills, the dark clouds, my way or the highway
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