After half a century of constant development, inspiration and hothouse flowerings, certain genres have found their perfect expression – soul-funk is one of them.

Sydney 8-piece Dojo Cuts are one perfect expression of this perfect expression. Lean, mean and heavy (in the true sense) there is not a bass-note or hihat-beat out of place – everything is slave to the groove, and what grooves they are! Working from, and building upon, the original late 60s/early 70s Stax/Atlantic rhythm-with-horns template, Dojo Cuts have joined current movers and shakers such as The Dap Kings in keeping this music not only alive, but bursting with blood, sweat and joyful tears.

Every band has their secret weapon and Dojo Cuts are blessed with two – the insistent and driving rhythm guitar of Nathan Aust and the startling vocal of singer Roxie Ray. The role of the rhythm guitar in this music cannot be overstated: the unadorned tone of a semi-acoustic through a vintage amp has that percussive chug and chop that links the harmonic with the rhythmic and ties it all together just beautifully.

And in a music known for its killer queens – Aretha, Mavis Staples, Etta James – Dojo Cuts’ Roxie Ray stands up proud. She has that perfect balance of soul and control and her voice is as highly individual as our own Kylie Auldist and Lanie Lane. Craig Charles of UK BBC6’s Funk & Soul Show says “Roxie Ray could sing the phone book and I would buy it”. Right on, Craig.

On his colourful liner notes to Dojo Cuts’ new album Take From MeRuss Dewbury (of Jazz Rooms fame) calls the band the “undisputed champions of the sound” and says “Dojo Cuts go route 1 to your soul”. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

After the jumping horn funk intro of ‘El Entro’ the band get down to dirty business with the sweet soul strut of ‘I Can Give’ and the party is on. ‘Mamacita’ is one of many standouts – a thrill ride with tasty latin jazz-flute filigrees decorating the funky greasy pork chops. ‘Sonny’s Strut’ lets the band flex their groove muscles; ‘Sometimes It Hurts’ is late night city lights and sorrow over cocktails; title track ‘Take From Me’ is smooth as skin – the album is soul-funk riches from go to whoa. 

Such is the confidence of Dojo Cuts with this material that they cover the recently departed Etta James’ 1968 soul anthem ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ – and carry it off perfectly, with Ray delivering all the soul-preaching and testifying it needs. No mean feat.

By the time we are flung sweating off the roller coaster of closer Marva Whitney’s ‘What Do I Have To Do?’, Dojo Cuts have done their job of shakin’ our asses, squeezing our hearts and making us thank God above for James Brown, Otis Redding and all the soul saints in heaven for this music. Take a listen, have a dance, take the Take From Me ride.

Take From Me will be released April 16, 2012 on Record Kicks

The Take From Me album launch party will be at Sydney’s The MAC on 20 May.

______________________________________________

Before posting this review, The OrangePress put a handful of questions to Dojo Cuts’ main man Nathan Aust. Here are his responses:

1. Your first album DOJO CUTS came out in 2009 – why so long between drinks?

We were all very busy!  Roxie went to Europe and did some shows, Guy the original bassist left to go back home to Manchester and Ed the original drummer left the band for other reasons.  So, I started up another band called The Liberators, also on Record Kicks.  Ed the original drummer played guitar in that band.

2. The new album has a nice ‘live’ sound to it – how was it recorded?

It was recorded pretty much live, everyone in the same room except for vocal overdubs.  Went straight to tape too.  We recorded the whole thing over two days!

3. You tackle a couple of killer soul standards. What made you select Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind?”

“I’d Rather Go Blind” was chosen by Roxie. Roxie and I would do little duet gigs around town and it was one of the covers we’d do. So we threw it in the mix and thought it came out sounding alright.

4. Dojo Cuts has always gone for a very authentic Atlantic/Stax sound – what are the modern elements in you music?

We’ve always just played the way we like and are obviously influenced by those records. When it comes to modern elements, we obviously influenced by Daptone, but they’re in the same boat as us when it comes to influences. Kind of a vicious soul circle.

5. What do you think the timeless appeal of R&B and Soul is?

I think a friend of mine Miss Sharon Jones said it right “What comes from the heart, goes straight to the heart”.  Plus it just sounds damn good!

6. Finally – what are your thoughts on the music scene today?

To be honest, I’m not really in a good position to answer that.  In regards to mass pop music, I’m clueless, I hardly listen to the mainstream radios or TV. However, I do think that there is a great underground Soul and Afro presence and keep my ears tuned to that.  Bands like Third Coast Kings, Deep Street Soul and all the stuff Record Kicks is putting out is feeding me nowadays.

Published April 2012 on theorangepress.net

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s