Danko Jones – “Below the Belt” [LP Review]

Review: Lana Harris

  Danko Jones is a man born to wear leather, and if listening to this album doesn’t convince you, the shiny black outfit he sports on the cover of his band’s latest LP Below the Belt will. This is BIG rock, stadia rock, another-word-that-rhymes-with-rock rock – what else would be expected from a man who names his band after himself? Proving that he’s more than just a leather clad front man, Jones also plays lead guitar, is responsible for writing columns in rock magazines, hosts radio shows and has completed solo spoken word tours.

The three piece standard of vocalist/ guitarist, drummer and bass guitarist swaggers onto the new album with ‘I Think Bad Thoughts’, a song reminiscent of the style and times of Guns ‘N’ Roses (and they did actually tour with GNR in January). Track 3, ‘Tonight is Fine’ mimics this style with sturdy guitar parts and well-built hooks. First single ‘Full of Regret’ brings a post millennial feel to the album, and there are good strong riffs throughout most of the tracks fuelling the power rock focus – exceptions are found in the slightly more subdued tracks ‘Had Enough’ and (bizarrely) ‘(I can’t handle) Moderation’, as well a bit of a punk feel on closer ‘I Wanna Break up with You’.

Lyrical topic of choice appears to be relationships with women – mostly break-ups – and the tone varies from mocking to crass to somewhat bitter, all infused with that big sense of self. This is then contrasted with ‘Magic Snake’, which, while appearing to be about someone else, still features a chorus line and fade out refrain of ‘ your magic snake don’t slither no more’. Singing about impotence is hard to pull off, and Danko Jones just don’t make it.

Contrasted with their earlier albums, the Canadian Danko Jones have remade their sound to be less grungy and more Motley Crue on Below the Belt. The press release suggests this was intentional, and in this they’ve been wholly successful – the power and the personality are there. Fans of their earlier work should welcome the change: the new, full-size sound now matches the lyrics which have always leant towards exaggerated descriptions and sentiments, and new listeners who appreciate the big hair and bigger egos of the 1980’s will find these tastes echoed on Below the Belt.

Danko JonesClick here for Danko Jones from iTunes