The phrase ‘New Wave of Classic Rock’ has always seemed a bit of a contradiction, as ‘new’ and ‘classic’ generally refer to opposite ends of the time scale. And of course, the more time marches on, the less ‘New Wave’ this genre appears. Nevertheless, the continuing surge of new bands espousing classic rock virtues is testament to the fact that people still love listening to hard-riffing, blues-based rock and roll, and musicians still want to play it. Despite releasing their self-titled debut album only four years ago, The Dust Coda are London-based purveyors of the same kind of raw-edged power rock many of us remember (or would have performed) on the pub circuit of 40 years past, in common with such bands as labelmates Temperance Movement. Their second full-length offering, Mojo Skyline, provides more of the same chunky, hard riffage and driving power.
The first number, Demon, opens boldly with a bit of solo vocal, in which Aussie-born John Drake’s tremulous but still powerful vocals recall Rival Sons’ Jake Buchanan. Then we are into a classic pub-rock riff on a crunchy guitar tone reminiscent of Ocean Colour Scene or The Music. The tempo changes just after two minutes into more of a jam fusion section, then back again a minute later, adding interest and variation. Second track Breakdown follows with its steamroller-heavy intro riff, but again there are subtleties as the number swaps rhythm and tempo at intervals, with some imaginative drumming.
Both Breakdown and Limbo Man have been released as singles; Limbo Man is something of an eyebrow raising choice – not because it’s a bad song; it’s not, it’s a great, riff-heavy New Wave of Heavy Metal rocker. But still, the delivery is fairly restrained compared to some of the numbers to follow. Dream Alight represents a complete change of mood, with a jangling, picked intro on an electric guitar, although it gets heavier as it goes through of course, ending on a high. Jimmy 2 Times, named for a character from gangster drama Goodfellas, is the last of the three singles from the album; a classic late 60s-early 70s riff along the lines of The Stones’ Satisfaction or Jumping Jack Flash, or perhaps The Kinks’ You Really Got Me or All Day and All Of the Night. The solo guitar takes more centre stage on this one.
Truthfully though, for this reviewer at least, the album only really kicks in from this point onwards. The first half is a good, rocky ride, with solid numbers and decent playing, but the six-minute Rolling is the first actual highlight. Starting with a slow rock riff, the vocal nevertheless comes in over quiet, jangling clearer-toned guitar with plenty of chorus effect. It goes a bit unexpectedly country at this point, until the hard and heavy riff comes back in. She’s Gone is another highlight; a faster, commercial rocker with echoes of Blind Melon and similar bands – there’s a great riff towards the end, and a pin-sharp, tight ending.
They Don’t Know Rock’n’Roll is a bit less intense, more fun if you want to put it that way, as the bands let themselves off the leash – it’s up-tempo and full on. This is followed by the manic Best Believe It, recalling Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen as well as some of the more up-tempo AC/DC numbers – it goes quiet-ish at two minutes, preparatory to unleashing all metal madness a minute later. The 4½ minute It’s A Jam ends with a great riff that also closes the album. If you’re a fan of no-frills, traditional pub metal, then this set is going to be a pleaser, and I have to say it gets better as it goes on, with the singles in the first half but most of the really great tracks in the second half.