The Upshot: Beloved Aussie guitarist and songwriter Dom Mariani gets a proper, career-spanning anthology that demonstrates his power pop brilliance and then some.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Though a near-legendary figure in the power pop underground, Dom Mariani remains a cult figure at best outside of those parameters. Too bad, as the Australian singer, guitarist and songwriter owns a remarkable body of work from various projects populating the past three decades—the Stems, the Someloves, the Stoneage Hearts, the Majestic Kelp, the DomNicks, the occasional solo album. Probably his most prolific and satisfying period was with his self-willed DM3, the purest power pop project of his career. Of the five albums plus singles and EPs, precisely none of them ever got a U.S. release; the closest thing was the best-of One Time Two Times Three Times More the band sold at shows during a brief Stateside tour a few years ago.
Fortunately, West of Anywhere finally changes that. Pulling from all of the band’s records, the comp presents hit after would-be hit. Mariani and his chums demonstrate an absolute mastery of what we think of as power pop – sweetly melodic but not teethache-inducing, tough and rocking but not blustery, innocent but never naive. Mariani has long explored the edges of his own talent across his projects, but here he stays within the parameters of the form, working the minor variations one would expect. Ballads (“I Thought That You Were Foolin’”), R&B blazers (“Give It Up”), midtempo charmers (“Second Floors,” “Something Heavy,” “Just Like Nancy”) – all are putty in the band’s hands. But the DM3 is at its best when it sticks to the recipe – straight pop rockers a la “Fall to Bits,” “Can’t Get What You Want,” “TV Sound,” “Please Don’t Lie” and signature tune “One Time, Two Times, Devastated.”
Regardless of twist, every song here is a gem – finely crafted, enthusiastically performed, simply and straightforwardly produced. As a result, the DM3’s work holds up exceptionally well, sounding as fresh and exciting today as it did 20 years ago. Power pop enthusiasts will gravitate toward this without question, but fans of any kind of melodic rock & roll owe it to themselves to finally sample one of the best bands of the ‘90s.
DOWNLOAD: “One Times, Two Times Devastated,” “Something Heavy,” “Just Like Nancy”