By Kieron Heavens
Where to begin with The Dust Coda’s self-titled debut album. The musicianship? The song writing? The production? The honest answer is that they are all fantastic – so let’s just jump right in.
The Dust Coda describe themselves as "soulful hard rock and roll”. During my first listen I found it hard to pinpoint what genre they fell into (you know, as a reviewer I have to stick bands in some category right?). They have rock and roll riffs, beautiful soulful ballads and bluesy beats, all rolled up into one beautiful package. So yes, soulful hard rock and roll works for me.
Let’s begin, as all great stories do, at the beginning. Opening track 'The More It Fades' is a big, ballsy declaration of intent from the band. Its soulful, it’s bluesy, it’s rocky – it’s everything the opening song should be. The vocals here are edgy, with a very natural feel – something that can be hard to capture on todays over produced rock. “All I Got” keeps the flow going with a bluesy rolling feel. We get introduced here to another side of singer John Drake’s vocals with a very Jeff Buckley/Rufus Wainwright-esque bridge which is a welcome surprise. It’s at this point that I should mention John Drake is a great vocalist, but more of that later.
A personal highlight for me is 'Weakness'. A great, driving song with an Airbourne-esque chorus that is sure to get fists in the air live. It’s a very well written song, with great dynamics between verse/chorus and what has to be one of my favourite riffs from guitarist Adam Mackie - a simple but effective standalone riff leading into the final chorus.
I’m now going to have to jump forward in the album to the sixth track 'Sweet Love Is Gone'. Nothing against the other tracks, I just find myself massively drawn to this one. Remember I said great vocalist? Here is yet again more proof. It’s a smooth, seductive number with a big focus on the vocals, further showing off the Buckley/Wainwright side of John’s vocals. This song seriously grooves. This is another stand out song for me, very well written, both restrained and driving at the same time. A quick nod to the backing vocals – spot on harmonies throughout. This track should be finding its way onto TV/Film soundtracks, it would work perfectly.
Track 8 'When The Tide Comes In' is a wonderful marriage of the rocking, bluesy side smashed into the bands soulful vibes. It opens with a Monster Truck-esque riff that will have heads nodding and fists pumping live for sure. Guitarist Adam Mackie does a great job of melting riffy guitars with delicate flourishes throughout. 'Down In The Valley' brings the dirty rock n roll. It’s a full on number with a pounding verse leading into a subtle blues chorus refrain that flips the standard 'soft verse, heavy chorus' on its head – a sign of the maturity and intelligence of this band. The album closes with a wonderful, sultry number, 'Will I Ever See You Again' which sounds like it should be on Later With Jools Holland (and for anyone who watches, you know that’s a big compliment!). A mention here should go to drummer and bassist Scott Miller & Tony Ho. Their unity and groove really shine through here, sitting in a beautifully hypnotising pocket throughout.
The Dust Coda’s debut album surprised me. I heard a couple of their 'rockier' tracks from previous encounters but the breadth of material on this album was something I didn’t expect. I sat down ready to review a full on rock album and was met with this wonderful mix of sounds. I have to take my hat off to the band – this is a sophisticated, intelligently written piece of work – each song has its own feel and merit, showcasing each member’s talent and musicianship. The best thing is that I keep listening again and again - not because I’m reviewing it but because I thoroughly enjoy it. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?