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Death Rattle Boogie

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Album Review

Without abandoning any of their longstanding touchstones — from '70s style acid-soaked cuts, to shoot-from-the-hip garage band tunes, to rambling, blues-inflected jams — New Zealand hard rock stalwarts the Datsuns deliver some of the catchiest, balls-out exuberant, and sonically epic tracks they've ever committed to record on 2012's Death Rattle Boogie. There is a pyrrhic intensity to the album that sounds less focused on paying tribute to the band's various '70s musical idols and more intent on rocking out. But the Datsuns do more than jam on Death Rattle; the songs here are well-crafted and tinged with a hint of the psychedelic, while still making room for wickedly ferocious and bluesy electric guitar solos, as well as some tasty piano and organ work. This mix of conscious forethought and "screw it, we'll do it live" rock attitude is perhaps best exemplified with the monumentally fiery album opener, "The Gods Are Bored." Kicking off with one of the best tension-building, noise-rock intros since Sonic Youth's "Sugar Kane," the song is a furious rock & roll call-to-arms and feels as if the band is challenging its audience to fully let loose in Dionysian rock & roll style. In keeping with this wide-eyed intensity is the explosive, '70s horror movie, boogie monster cut "Gold Halo," which spews forth with a fuzzed-out electric guitar line over a galloping, equine military beat. Elsewhere, the Datsuns dive headlong into a handful of sock-to-the-gut anthems including the rollicking, country and juke-joint piano piece "Goodbye Ghosts," the propulsive "Skull Full of Bone," and the slinky and psychedelic "Colour of the Moon." Which isn't' to say the album is all fist and no finesse. On the contrary, songs like the reverb-laden "Wander the Night," and the midtempo "Axethrower," with its low-end Black Sabbath-esque groove, will make your hips sway in bluesy, lustful delight. Over ten years since they formed, there is little the retro-influenced Datsuns could have done to blow our minds except perhaps, as the title of Death Rattle Boogie implies, shake their fists at their maker in one defiant gesture and deliver the best album of their career.


Formed: 1996 in Cambridge, New Zealand

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Although six months earlier people were telling New Zealand's Datsuns to give up, by mid-2002 London's music press was hailing them as "genius." By then the Datsuns had already been playing their brand of garage rock for six years, ever since they met at school in Cambridge and formed a band called Trinket. Back in 1997, as Trinket, they won the local radio station's Battle of the Bands. The following year, now called the Datsuns, they won again. In the years that followed they released only a handful...
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Death Rattle Boogie, The Datsuns
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