Dom Mariani

Underwater Casino

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Australian singer/songwriter Dom Mariani is almost revered as a god in certain quarters of the pop underground, even as he remains unknown to a wider audience. Since the '80s, Mariani has led the bands the Stems, the Someloves, and the DM3, producing a garage version of power pop that stays true to the genre's essential elements while adding enough invention, personality, and plain songwriting skill to keep from sounding like yet another tribute act. Mariani shows those same traits in another style on the debut album of yet another band, Dom Mariani & the Majestic Kelp: Underwater Casino is an entirely instrumental surf rock album. It's a really good one at that, written and played with evident craft and an obvious love of the genre. The songs are impressively varied, enough so that unlike many instrumental surf albums, it doesn't get all boring and monochromatic about two-thirds of the way through, and there's bits of organ, strings, sitar, and other interesting instrumental textures along with the reverby twang guitar. For even casual fans of instrumental surf, Underwater Casino is very highly recommended. Longtime Mariani fans, however, should be fully aware of the complete stylistic shift on this album and adjust their expectations accordingly.

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