SEE! - The Datson Four (Off the Hip)
This is catchy-as-hell, mod-influenced pop from a Canadian three-piece and it's hard to dislike much about it. Formerly known as The Datsons (undergoing a change of tag so as not to be confused with the New Zealand rockers The Datsuns), this is their second full-length album and their first for Off the Hip, the Melbourne magazine-cum-garage label that's going from strength-to-strength. "See!" is also the precursor to a two-week Australian tour planned for 2003.

The Datson Four have been touring supports to the likes of Tricky Woo and Supergrass and that's a fair indication of where they're coming from. They've also shared a stage with a reformed Zombies line-up and have graced New York's Cavestomp festival. This is powerful and this is poppy. And VERY Who - dig the soulful Townsend backing vocals on "I Am the Eye" or "The Secret Novel". Bet Paul Weller wishes he wrote "Love and Compassion", which has a distinctly Jam feel.

Trevor Anderson writes and sings all the songs (and plays pretty good Rickenbacker, too) but it's Rishi Dhir's driving bass that steals the show. What's more, it's so obviously recorded in glorious ANALOGUE with a fulsome, warm sound. (Shame on me for listening to it on CD instead of black plastic, but I am a Slave to the Digital Age and I don't know that it's coming out in the old, honoured format anyway.) Wonder what Shel Talmy's doing when they record Album Number Three?

Stylised mods they might be but the Datson Four can rock, too. "Man Without Mercy" is a pretty fair rocking beat tune that would have sat well on The Jam's "Sound Effects" EP (except these guys write batter songs.) "For a Love Supreme" puts me in mind of The Mooney Suzuki - granted, without the same manic level of intensity, but with the added colour of saxophones. "Spyhunter" is an extended seven-minute freakbeat workout that adds a touch of backwards-played sitar, courtesy of Dhir.

You either like this stuff or you don't. It's at the Northern soul end of the garage spectrum rather than the flat-out, foot-to-the-floor rush of a Friday night at the Excelsior. Might even be too derivative for some, but scratch the surface around Australia and there's a ton of killer powerpop bands who'd be perfect foils for these guys. Start queuing to the right. - The Barman