Mojo Dingo – Mojo Dingo – Album Review
A band on the Paper Rock Scissors label! Well why didn’t ya say so!?! You can always rely on the crew there to supply ya with quality tunes. Mojo Dingo has just made their official debut on the Australian-based label, bringing a Blues/Funk-Rock dimension to the growing catalog of tunes they’re helping put out into this world of ours…and true to the standards set by Paper Rock Scissors in the past, this new find of theirs is stocked full of impressive musicianship and a genuine passion for the music they make.
Personally, I wanna thank Mojo Dingo…I really think they helped me make a breakthrough in a genre I’ve always had a tougher time with. I realized I’ve been making a mistake in somewhat painting all music with the same brush before I push play – half of me always expects whatever I’m gonna find, is gonna be something that recreates the wheel…or perhaps that’s always my hope. And if there’s a genre or style out there in the music world that ain’t gonna give you that – ever – it’s this one. But that’s just the thing folks…no one would even enter into anything-Blues without most likely completely knowing that themselves already…and so you gotta ask yourself – why exactly is it that this kind of music continues to be made proudly to this day, even if much of it feels like it fundamentally never changes, right? And the answer to that is simple – it’s not so much about what you’re playing, it’s the way you’re playing it – what separates a band like Mojo Dingo from the rest is the wildly passionate musicianship. Blues is all about ‘the feel’ as they say…technique, tone, creative freedom, colorful expression – these are the things that matter & that’ll tell ya whether or not a band or artist is worth their salt in a style like this – and I’m more than happy to report that Mojo Dingo has got plenty of all the right ingredients to make their take on the Blues connect to y’all out there. This self-titled record has the moves & grooves.
I could go into how I think more than half the genre is built on a misnomer and labeled incorrectly at the stage it’s at in history now too, but perhaps that’s a story for another time. Suffice it to say that, you’re gonna find the Blues via Mojo Dingo is gonna have you in a great mood, rather than make ya miserable. Make no mistake y’all – you can have good times while listening to the Blues, despite the implied odds.
With a solid howlin’ of wolves, “Mojo Blues” sparks itself to life, and Mojo Dingo is off & running with stellar chops on display through a forty-five second instrumental ride before you’re even introduced to the vocals, establishing the fact that, heck yeah, these four dudes can play. You’ve got Steve McInerny on the bass, Peter Kershaw on the drums, William Bourke on the guitar along with Gerrard Allman, the latter of which will take on the microphone duties for Mojo Dingo as well with his dusty charm. Inside of the Blues genre, you’d be surprised – you’ll find more self-titled anthems than you’d think…perhaps it’s a kind of rite of passage inside the genre that you eventually get your own theme, medley, or anthem named after ya at least once; I don’t know this for a fact, I just know it to be true. They start puttin’ the cool through your speakers with no hesitation on “Mojo Blues,” and I highly suspect a whole lot of fans of the genre, sound, and style will be stoked to have this band doin’ what they do with such impressive results. There’s real life in the way these guys play together, and it’s a magic in tandem shared between them that I don’t think any set of ears out there could possibly miss if I’m being truthful with ya – Mojo Dingo can certainly play, and by the end of one single spin through this first cut, they make it impossible for any of us to conclude otherwise. They’ve got personality, charisma, chemistry, and charm all working well in their favor…”Mojo Blues” gives you a solid glimpse of what’s to come without giving it all away in one shot – for as many chops as they’re flash at ya here, they’ve still got a ton more to reveal.
I found the musicianship on this record pretty much endlessly impressive…fantastic technique shared by the players in this band, excellent chemistry between them, and remarkable balance in their strengths on display at all times. Listening to them shift into the smooth & sly grooves of “Make Me Feel This Way” was a pure delight, straight-up – I think they put real chops on display here in this tune in a way that a ton of people out there will love, and you can hear how a band like this has built these tracks to create real show-stopping moments from the live stage when it comes time to perform. Directly because of their own high level of competence and capabilities – believe me, it’s really damn tough to cite any one element as being any better than the others when you’re talking about things on a technical level, and structurally, you’ll find they’re a very all-inclusive style of band, where Mojo Dingo gives each player their own opportunity to shine bright along the way. All that good stuff being said, it’s hard not to acknowledge just how much the rhythm section between Steve and Peter are crushin’ it on “Make Me Feel This Way” – they’re doin’ their level best to steal the show here, and were it not for the killer guitar tones & solos showing up, they might have just gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those meddlin’ kids. Let’s give the man Jarrad Payne at Wizard Tone Studios a genuine shout-out for his efforts too shall we? Not only has Mojo Dingo ensured they’ve put the heart & passion into the way they play their material, but having Jarrad in control of the recording, mixing, and mastering was clearly the right call – production-wise, there’s nothing to be complained about when it comes to the sound of this album and how much of a real spark it has, while also remaining brilliantly faithful to the vibes that people really love to hear in this specific style of music. Love the way they drop into the rhythm & rumble of this cut, giving it such impressive texture, flash & flair along the way with the guitars chiming in with character to add into the roll the bass & drums are continually on throughout this whole record.
As to the saxophone showing up for the first time on “Lookin’ Back” via the talented Mark Hawkins – I mean…this dude’s layin’ down absolutely essential contributions and he’s an incredible asset to this cut, in addition to the track to follow in “On My Mind” as well. “Lookin’ Back” is one of those cuts you’ll find out there & on this record that makes absolutely stellar use of the time it has…for just shy of three & a half minutes, you feel like you’ve really taken a ride with this song by the time it’s all said & done. That’s the effect of meaty music that gives your ears something to chew on though folks, and I suggest you get a knife & fork to sit down & have yourself a meal here – Mojo Dingo has a wealth of top-notch instrumentation for you to enjoy on “Lookin’ Back.” Solid hooks in the vocals, some of my favorite solo work from the guitars to be found here as well…such impressive control and craft in the instrumentation all-around, Mojo Dingo never spares ya any detail when it comes to the vibrant nature of their sound. They’ve got tunes that leap proudly out of your speakers, and rightly so – the way this band plays together warrants the confidence they play with, and in knowing they’re amongst players they can always rely on to be right there with them in time & in the moment, you can hear the effect that has on Mojo Dingo overall, almost as if each player inspires the one right beside’em to be at their very best the whole way through. I really love the way this cut starts out too with a bit of distance & effects added into the production to make it all seem older or further away, and as a result of that choice, when Mojo Dingo starts to fire it up for real, it’s like we zoom right into the groove of this cut and everything is right up close and more vivid, vibrant, and all-encompassing as ever. You factor in that stellar saxophone from Matt involved here and the amazing solo he puts in, and that puts a track like this over the top in the right way, giving it all the character & personality it needs to stand out and truly earn our attention.
I do have a few moments here & there with the vocals from Gerrard where I’m more than willing to acknowledge the fact that I think he’s got more in the tank than we necessarily get from him all the time – but let’s be fair too, Mojo Dingo is just gettin’ this band off the ground here, and it’s only natural that we’re going to discover a few points of potential evolution to be had in the future. It’s a tough thing to complain about…and I’m not…not really. For the most part, and the vast majority of these songs in the set-list of this self-titled record at-large, Gerrard finds the right energy, approach, and tone with real consistency. Nothing more than a couple spots here & there where you’ll feel like he needed just a bit more oomph in the emphasis or power behind his melody to reach its full potential…overall, he’s a great fit for Mojo Dingo on the mic. For a slower jam as well, “On My Mind” is actually quite an ambitious & demanding tune when it comes to how it’s played & how it’s sung…dangerously shifting into not-too-slow & not-too-fast terrain…the ol’ mid-section, where music can quite often wander out into the risk of indifference from the masses out there, largely due to what ears recognize as a more confusing energy to absorb. Is it a fast song or is it a slow song? While the hamster runs the wheel of your brain trying to make sense of what it’s hearing, in many cases, folks can just tend to give up because mid-tempo cuts usually are more intricate & involved on both sides of the speakers. Don’t get me wrong, and don’t get it twisted – when it comes right down to it, I’d advocate and argue fully on behalf of “On My Mind” – ultimately, I think it’s one of the record’s best tunes in terms of potential; I’m not 100% sure they’ve gotten the absolute maximum from it here, but I’d more than readily tell ya it’s close enough for your enthusiastic consumption. For people out there like myself that dig a bit more melody in the music you listen to, “On My Mind” is pretty much THE choice on the record that’s gonna give you the most of that from the band – and if you’re looking for something that is different from the majority of the set, this cut also makes the biggest departures from the rest of what you’ll find on this self-titled record. Energy-wise, tempo-wise, and even length-wise as well – at nearly five & a half minutes long, “On My Mind” has nearly more than a full minute’s worth of time to work its magic on ya than any other song has. I would fully understand it if you were to tell me that a track like this might be harder to stand up and cheer for or be over-the-moon ecstatic about – because show me a mid-tempo tune that makes you feel that way to begin with, it’d be rarer than rare – but at the same time, you get something special out of this particular song that you won’t find in any of the others on this album. They’ve put it in the right spot, they’ve put just as much passion and stunning musicianship into this tune as the rest…really the main obstacle to be overcome here is just the never-ending battle with the public and the pace of a song – and any of you out there would be crazy to cater to that, so don’t. Do what you do, make the music you wanna make…you gotta admit, there’s a natural charm in “On My Mind” that wins you over completely.
For someone like myself, who is yes, usually found well outside of the Blues Rock circuit to be completely fair here…it’s tracks like “Jump Up” that would normally stand the hardest challenge from me personally. This is both an example of what’s tried, tested, and true & has been for years & years & years as far back as you can go in the history of the genre – AND…it’s a really, really damn good time too. Believe me – I hear a cut like this where it becomes harder to argue that it’s evolving the scene or music in any real specific way, and it’s almost always my natural inclination to rail against it somehow – but hearing the outright exceptional way Mojo Dingo plays this track with such flawless unity between them, such impeccable musicianship, and such clear interest & passion is more than enticing – it’s enough to silence a guy like myself from his role as a critic, to the point where I just wanna shut up and turn it UP, you dig? Like I mentioned from the get-go, Mojo Dingo has really helped instill that value of real Blues in me through this review…it’s songs like this, where I felt like I would have normally attempted to rebel and go rogue here, that really won me over personally. You just can’t argue against the way these guys play, and “Jump Up” might actually be one of the prime examples of that, almost daring themselves to go as classic & close to the script as you know, to see if they CAN make an impression on ya all the same – and boy howdy, do they! From the walkin’ bass-lines struttin’ their stuff to the guitars chiming in along the way, Mojo Dingo has got this track loaded with musical personality.
I think…I’d probably be inclined to go with “Harder Days” as the single if you were to ask me. While there are a lot of great cuts in this lineup that would represent them really well, and we’re somewhat splitting hairs in that regard as any of these tunes would make justifiable candidates for that role, it still felt like there’s just that much more rhythm, rumble, and fun to be had in the worker’s anthem that is “Harder Days.” Like, if you’ve ever been stuck out there in the grind, which I’m sure more than most of you have, toilin’ away at the ol 9-5, or even worse, the 9am-who-knows-when – a track like “Harder Days” is built for you to turn right up and toss your cares away once you finally reach that sweet time off the clock. Yeah…call me crazy, but I think they’ve got themselves a seriously single-worthy cut here. The bass is off the charts cool, the guitars are inventive, innovative, and brilliantly well-played on “Harder Days” as well, adding just as much flavor to the whole design, almost in a call & answer style when working in tandem with the vocals throughout the verses. “Harder Days” is a relatable cut too – and make no mistake, there’s a ton of value in that when it comes to the many listening ears out there – people will listen to a track like this one and turn it right up as a form of catharsis & celebration at the very same time. It’s impressive to me when a band like Mojo Dingo can come along with a cut that lyrically digs into harder stuff and more rugged terrain based in reality, and still come out with something that sounds this engaging, this lively, and this all-around fun…every time “Harder Days” came around again on my playlist, it definitely felt like I’d reached the highest degree of accessibility in any track from start to finish. Like I said, I think they should be lookin’ at this cut as a gateway in for the people out there as a single of some sort…give this one the ol’ video treatment and let the magic of the internet send it up the charts – “Harder Days” is one of the easier vibes you’ll slide into this year, 100%.
The real Funk in the Blues Rock of Mojo Dingo is perhaps no better revealed than it is at the very end of this record, as they rip into their take on the mega-hit “Born Under A Bad Sign,” made legendary by Albert King and recognizable to millions out there, inside & outside of the genre. I am gonna tell ya right here, right now folks – don’t miss out on this cover! Mojo Dingo has pulled off something I genuinely love in listening to great music that’s extremely well-played – they’ve managed to entirely respect the original jam, while also doing themselves truly proud in the process. Essentially, if you’re a fan of King’s original, you’re gonna be more than pleased here – and if you’re a fan of Mojo Dingo, you’ll be just as stoked to hear the way they play this massive hit song. Almost to the point where it’s kind of like a hybrid between something like King, and Morris Day And The Time’s “Jungle Love,” you dig? It’s lively and got real bounce to it…even a hint of psychedelic vibes coming through the guitar solos as well…I mean, you gotta give credit where credit is due – this is the right way to cover a song and have the whole world happy to hear ya do it. No one out there is gonna complain…you’re not gonna run into the grumpy old dude in the back of the room murmuring about how the ‘original is always better’ before leaving the club on his own for the millionth time in a row…no – the masses would eat this right up, as they should, because real this cover is absolutely surging with enthusiastic, passionate instrumentation. Familiarity can be a huge benefit to bands & artists out there…that’s a major advantage to any cover song – regardless of how much you’ve played it or not, you know the material better in the majority of cases, because those songs you choose tend to have been around much longer than your own originals. Hence, in situations like this, Mojo Dingo has no problem at all cutting right to the chase with confidence and attacking the grooves of “Born Under A Bad Sign” with everything they’ve got for a real killer finale. You’ll find the band is as tight as they’ve been throughout the album, but also playing with a real spark of inspiration that shows their respect for King’s original and wanting to leave their stamp on it – and it really felt like Gerrard brought out his best as well when it came to how he sings this final track on their self-titled debut. Definitely a solid ground to finish off on – Mojo Dingo makes a lasting impression on ya with their passionate execution and provide you with much more fun than you’d probably expect from the Blues.
Find out more about Mojo Dingo from their official page at Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/mojodingo
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