OUT OF MY HEAD - The D4 (Flying Nun/FMR)
Ever been hit in the mouth with a cricket bat? Hurts like hell and leaves all sorts of dental bills in its wake. Listening to the new D4 album has a similar impact. The difference is that after one listen, you'll end up smiling - with all your choppers intact.

This is cast-iron, down-and-dirty rock 'n' roll that alternately soars and divebombs like a strafing stealth bomber. Virtually frill-free and bereft of bullshit, it charts a course for the little piece of grey matter in the head that releases endorphins that make you mouth the words: 'Fuck me, this rocks'.

From the no-nonsense intro of the opening salvo "Sake Bomb" (a song about getting bombed, in the alcoholic sense) to the closer, a stop-start work-out called "Diamond, Ruby, Stone", The D4 deliver the goods in spades. If you liked "6Twenty" you'll be out of your head for, er, "Out Of My Head". It rocks harder, sounds better and has catchier songs than its predecessor.

Apart from a deviation into Hives territory (the staccato "Feel It Like That"), the production is straightforward and gloriously live-sounding. Dion's guitar on "Trust Nobody" could strip paint at 20 paces. The odd keyboard embellishment (on the soulful blues crawl "Stops Me Cold", for example) doesn't go astray.

What's with all the reviews highlighting alleged lyrical dumbness? Sure, these guys ain't Bob Dylan, but a few critics are forgetting that truly great rock and roll doesn't always require incisive wordplay to make its point. I suppose that's what you get for printing the lyrics on the sleeve, but it's appallingly lazy to typecast The D4 as just another bunch of hopping cretins.

There's much more to offer here, especially if you regard reference points like Radio Birdman, the Dead Boys and Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers (especially) as special. The D4 take their lead from all of the above and more, and crank it out in their own way. Think the Mooney Suzuki with a more potent attack.

If you're going to judge a band by its occasional deviations into cover territory, then cast a verdict on "Out of Control" (the Lime Spiders chestnut, slightly re-worked) and an awesome "Savage" (the kids in the UK, where these guys have spent a ton of time, probably never heard of the Fun Things). Speaking of other territories, while a reprise (in Japanese) of "Sake Bomb" might be superfluous to Western ears, I'll bet they go apeshit for it in the Land of the Rising Sun.

It's been a vintage year of recorded music in 2005 if you've been prepared to look hard enough, and it's a fair bet this one will still be standing when the smoke clears and it comes to time pick the best. A band truly on top of its game and not many others can come close. - The Barman



3/4

For New Zealand band The D4, the lengthy four-year interval between the band's debut long-player and this follow up seems to show them delivering on their early live promise through.

The opening pair of tunes., "Sake Bomb" and the title track, show The D4 have not lost any of their ability to deliver catchy, high energy rock 'n' roll. "Feel It Like It" follows and finds the band drawing on '60s garage, but delivered their own way. "What I Want" drops the tempo slightly, but the dual guitar histrionics make it memorable.

"Trust Nobody" seems to draw on personal experience to examine a well worn topic.

"Stops me Cold" appears to be the major musical departure, with guest organ from Rusty B. Modern blues meets Booker T and The MGs.

"Omerta" regathers the pace and volume and the first of two covers follows: The Lime Spiders' "Out of Control" appears edited form yet more than matches the original with vocals handled, on this tune, by guitarist Dion. An original, "Peepshow", finds the band at their high-energy best as they tackle the topic of female exotic dancers who 'shake that ass' (and tell how it affects male partners). The band then offers its killer take on The Fun Things' "Savage", a live favourite.

The closing pairing of "Rock-n-Rule" and "Diamond, Ruby, Stone" maintains the high energy but the latter recalls in parts the "Heartbreaker", which shut down the last album.

The D4's "Out of My Head" will more than satisfy those who have so keenly awaited it. - Simon Li



3/4

6TWENTY - The D4 (Flying Nun)
Having seen The D4 on their first Australian tour in 2000 and then again recently in 2002, this reviewer had relatively high expectations for their debut LP. Opening with "Rock 'n' Roll Motherfucker" is an unquestionably top choice. One killer cut, with razor sharp rhythm guitar work, precise and concise lead guitar work and the rampaging rhythm section pounding away until the drums and bass guitar fall to pieces. This is followed by "Party" (for which a video clip exists) and displays greater use of musicality and dynamics, but nonetheless slashes and burns, with more over the top guitar, to which The Hellacopters and The Backyard Babies would most likely nod approvingly towards.

"6TWENTY" includes nine original compositions and three covers, the first of these being Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers classic "Pirate Love". Many bands over the years may have attempted this, but leave it to The D4 for a band to finally absolutely nail it . "Running on Empty" follows and is a mighty fine hip-shakin', mid-tempo rocker, with more sharp guitar work and is a definite highlight. Another is the cover of Japan's Guitar Wolf tune "Invader Ace". With more rampaging, rumbling bass and more tasty, snappy guitar work.

"Little Baby" pulls back the pace somewhat and and with guest organ from Cameron Rowe (who appears throughout) and hot-rod sound samples, is the bands fine attempt at groovy '60s garage punk. "Heartbreaker" closes the album and is another departure from what might be expected of The D4 and might possibly remind listeners of Turbo Negro (ca "I Got Erection" without the overtly sexual lyrics) and The Rolling Stones (ca "Gimme Shelter" without the soulful backing vocals) and features more guitar histrionics, in short, sharp bursts, probably recalling the latter day New Christs tune "Pedestal". With the variety of artists and recordings this reviewer has reviewed until this CDLP, it has been a challenge to find a group whose debut CDLP recording is as sonically powerful, wired with a sense of fun and whose playing is as entertaining as what appears on The D4's "6TWENTY". These characteristics are delivered throughout and makes "6TWENTY" (for mine anyway) one of the best for 2002. - Simon Li

 

What? A Flying Nun band being reviewed at the Bar? Despite a reputation for a roster full of shoegazing acts, New Zealand's most enduring underground label has taken a rockier road of late, and The D4 is the vanguard of this new direction.

Yep, Real Rock looks to be making a resurgence of sorts across the Tasman with the likes of these guys and the Datsuns (who hail from the same so-called Frisbee collective on Auckland's North Shore) garnering more than a little overseas attention. The D4 have made just one quick visit to Australia (which we shamefully missed) and head back in May to support Radio Birdman at their Corner Hotel show in Melbourne, sandwiching the date between trips to the US and UK. On the strength of this, their debut album, the D4-Birdman affair is going to be quite a match-up. I can't help feeling that this stuff will be largely wasted on the Poms, even if they have taken to the Hives.

I stumbled upon a copy of the D4's first EP more than a year ago and am now looking for their second. Not since the last Powder Monkeys album, the most recent New Christs disc or the last Asteroid B612 effort has an Australasian band rocked out as furiously. (I'm missing a few here but you know what I mean.) There are touches of Acca Dacca in the 4/4 beat and lashings of the Heartbreakers all over the blistering guitar attack. The D4 even dip their lid in the direction of Johnny T with a faithful cover of "Pirate Love" (and a copy of LAMF pictured in the liner sleeve) so it's all pretty obvious without resorting to homage or junk cliches.

The D4 hit with all the subtlety of a Dominion Bitter hangover. It's all loud guitars and dumbed-down lyrics - both of which are Not a Bad Thing as far as we're concerned. I'm not wild about the production - you can positively feel the tube amp glowing but the vocals are buried in parts - but I'm not dying in a ditch over it either (and who the fuck wants to hear this stuff OVER-PRODUCED?)

"Rocknroll Motherfucker" sets the scene from the get-go with its frantic engine room laying it down for the guitars to run rampant over. Speaking of guitars, "Rebeckah" and "Little Baby" (the latter featuring a mid-song storm) literally breathe them. The D4 show their Japanese tour host Guitar Wolf a thing or two with their cover of "Invader Ace". "Party" sounds just like one with Johnny Genzales on the guest list, while "Mysterex" (another cover, attributed to the Scavengers) betrays 60s punk roots. "Ladies Man" is similarly placed with some subtle organ laid on behind squalling geetars.

Get the picture? This is a guitar album, first and foremost. Fuck, if it does well we might even claim the D4 as our own (like we did with Russell Crowe.) If you're here you'll probably like it and can probably pick up a copy at Fast Food.- The Barman


 

 

 

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