Album Review : THE DUST CODA – Mojo Skyline

Review by Peter Coates –

THE DUST CODA – Mojo Skyline

Release Date – 26th March 2021

The Press Release for The Dust Coda‘s forthcoming album Mojo Skyline tells us that it was recorded at Modern World Studios with the multi-platinum, award-winning producer Clint Murphy (Manic Street Preachers, Thunder, Devilskin), and offers a plenitude of tracks that leap across the spectrum of rock’n’roll, containing half a decade’s worth of the band’s raw soul and innermost demons. 

Sleek yet hard-hitting rock’n’roll rooted in blues soul, the band clutches the echoes of the genre’s most beloved household names, from the pure, raw poetry of Led Zeppelin to the nasty muscle of Guns ‘N Roses, and bring them kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.  So no big deal then!!

There have been three singles released to date, with Jimmy 2 Times the most recent, with the cracking video produced by powerhouse Andrew Morahan who said “a classic video for a classic rock band”.  Frontman John Drake looks sharp and sings with a bit of gravel in true Aussie-style, and Adam Mackie absolutely slays the guitar solo in the video, and this really shows the band off in the very best way possible.

That distinctive voice kicks off Demon in great fashion, and an up-tempo pop-rocker follows, which looks like it might be a straight-ahead rocker, until the mid-section overwhelms with intensity, guitar brilliance, and a moody segment of powerful voice before a brutal riff kicks in, that leads us slowly into a reprise of the chorus!  What an opener to the record!  A rough guitar into hits hard with Breakdown one of the early single releases, which has more of a groove to it, with bass and drums tanking along underneath the guitars, and there is a constant stream of wailing guitar licks throughout.  Again, the track builds up into a double-time mid-section, with guitar and vocals both letting rip, while the backing chorus bounces along behind the mayhem!

If you like your rock straight up, solid and powerful then Limbo Man has that Airbourne / Massive / Casanovas vibe with an absolute crusher of a riff, and a sneering vocal delivery enhanced with some neat back-up voices, that blends the real classic rock feel with a touch of more modern hard rock. Yet again there is some superb guitar work that is almost a throwaway at the end of the track, but the more you listen the more you hear!

Dream Alight is almost as though the CD changer has kicked in and a totally different band has come on, with dreamy sparse guitars and a soaring pure vocal line for the first verses and chorus, with John Drake really making a statement as a modern rock vocalist.  The middle-eight has a bit more of a grungy feel and leads into a heavier riff / solo section that is back to the punchy Dust Coda sound, and the back-end of the track is more Muse than ballad.  The video for Jimmy 2 Times is a corker, but listening to the track alone highlights the music without distraction, and the twin guitars really set the tone with the opening riffage!  Again there is a Casanovas feel, and the extra touches of keys or horn section really add to the depth of sound, and bring in some Aerosmith feels. Mackie throws some great guitar breaks in amongst the verses, and delivers another corker of a solo.  The chorus here is a belter, with hooks aplenty, and this deserves to be a rock-radio hit.

There is a huge sound to the intro of Rolling, which turns into something of a signature track on the record.   John Drake gives us a plaintiff opening verse over bare guitars, which then shifts gear into a powerhouse chorus where his blues-rock range explodes from the speakers.  There are a whole range of vocal styles on show here, and he seems to tailor them perfectly to complement the differences in guitar sound and technique – this is more than 6 minutes of epicness, and while Drake is tearing the vocal line, Mackie is on fire with a series of licks and a solo that sets him way up the list of current classic rock guitarists in the UK.

After the passion and intensity of Rolling, we get a stripped back country-rock ballad in Bourbon Pouring with some warm piano, and a neat drum pattern from Scott Miller which all contributes to the rolling groove of this beautifully crafted pop-rock song.  The retro fuzz-lord guitar-hero re-appears on I’ve Been Waiting, with Drake attacking the vocals with a Robert Plant growl, and a Lenny Kravitz echo in the guitar breaks that is glorious.  This has elements of Soundgarden and Alter Bridge in the tones, and then some old-school Iommi in the middle-eight riff before the track takes off again into the closing choruses, with Mackie showing great dexterity in the fretwork of the harmony guitars. 

She’s Gone has an alternative rock feel with the jangling guitars, and some power in the riff under the chorus, and another sharp solo – the twin guitars really adding the necessary punch to the tracks.  There are also yet more examples of the breadth of Drake’s vocal range which gets wider by the minute.   This runs through to the high-octane They Don’t Know Rock’n’Roll, all foot-stomping, hair-shaking guitar-fuelled energy, with some Hammond organ providing an extra level of texture to the melody, and this has the chunkiness of the likes of Monster Truck and Royal Blood in the mix.

Full throttle ahead with Best Believe It which pounds along with underlying power chords while Adam Mackie provides the melody, and the track steps back for a middle-eight that you can always feel is holding back the growing energy, until some huge chords and vocals power back in, and the track develops into what could be a great set-closer, with some call and response “Hey Hey Heys” as the pace picks up through to the eventual overblown ending – just perfect.

The album-closer is an amalgam of everything that has gone before, and aptly-titled as It’s A Jam – with those jangly rhythm guitars again, over the high-energy bass and drums of Tony Ho and Scott Miller.  It rocks up into a swaggering riff not unlike Rival Sons or The Answer, and again we see the consistently terrific performances from Drake and Mackie which are just typical for the whole record.

The sound and production of the record is superb, retaining the raw but soulful grit of the guitars and voice, and allowing the listener to really hear the separate parts of the mix, while ensuring that the whole sound of the band is also maintained through every single track.  It has been 4 years since the band’s debut release, but this one has certainly been worth the wait – what a great album!

Mojo Skyline will be released on 26th March 2021 via Earache Records.

Pre-orders are available here – 

Useful Links:






Pic : Dean Chalkley