Photo By John Anderson
The D4Emo's, Thursday, March 13
No doubt the D4 have become weary of being compared to their most obvious antecedents, Radio Birdman and the MC5. Let's try a different approach then. What's soul music all about, other than Stax/Volt and Motown? Billy Sherrill-period George Jones is soul music. Sun Records rockabilly is soul music. CCR is soul music. In other words, any kind of music that really comes from the heart and sounds like you mean it is soul music. The D4 play soul music. There wasn't a whole lot that was recognizable from their first album, save for "Running on Empty" (no, not the Jackson Browne mellow-hair number), and "Get Up Get Out Get Loose." Still, these guys play with such reckless energy and force you'd think their top-fuel dragster might wind up in the ditch, but it never does. They play punk rock, if you have to call it that, but it's so completely informed by R&B, Sixties garage rock, Chuck Berry, and yes, the MC5 and Blue Cheer that it leaves most of punk rock's conventions in the dust. There are none of the angry grunts of 21st-century metal here, nor the tuneless punk-rawk squawks that sound like someone sexually assaulting a chimpanzee. The D4 bring melody and hooks to the I-IV-V formula of punk without ever sounding like candy, then take it somewhere above and beyond in a torrent of sweat and adrenaline. Just when you thought rawk was dead and not much more could be done with Fender and Gibson guitars and Marshall amps, thank god for a band like the D4. Rock & roll never really went tits-up, though it's been put through some god-awful mutations through the years. The D4 -- and many of their Australia/New Zealand compatriots -- kept the defibrillator paddles at the ready to give it a good shock all this time. Soul music, indeed.