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Below the Belt
Danko Jones Below the Belt
Released 14 June 2010
Producer Matt DeMatteo
Label Bad Taste Records
Length 42:03
Genre Hard Rock
Website www.dankojones.com
35

If you like your music to have any of the following; a considered world view, a social conscience, a deft emotional touch and subtle or open-ended lyrical content...then Danko Jones are not the band for you. However, if you enjoy unapologetic rock n' roll machismo and just like to have a good time then perhaps you could get your kicks listening to the band's sixth LP Below the Belt.

A quick perusal of the band's mission statement will leave you in no doubt as to where these guys are coming from:

"So long as guys keep thinking with their dicks instead of their heads and so long as beautiful women have the power to reduce men to drooling, deviant, irrational idiots, Danko Jones records will continue to sound like Danko Jones records."

Indeed. Be in no doubt, Mr. Jones likes the ladies. He likes them a lot. And on the rare occasions where he falls out with one of them, he's not afraid to let you know how that makes him feel either. The chicks, the honeys, the broads, the babes, the hotties and the smokin' hotties have all provided enough lyrical content for this Canadian three-piece to keep rockin' since 1996. Quite a feat in itself.

The Danko Jones sound is strong and well-rounded. It uses the holy trinity of rock (guitar, bass and drums) to powerful effect, without any over-complications. The mix of rhythm and lead guitar within some of the tracks shows a definite Thin Lizzy influence, while other tracks such as the opening 'I Think Bad Thoughts' go for a more direct punkish drive. The highlight of the album comes in the closing song's chorus. 'I Wanna Break Up With You' has a title and a sound befitting of the Ramones and is certainly the album's most memorable moment. Their sound is definitely nothing new, but one that you could quite easily tap your toe, shake your hair or bound around shirtless to. Depending on your own personal preference.

The problem, for me at any rate, lies in the themes and in the lyrics. When I say that all Danko Jones songs are about his relationship with women I do not exaggerate to make a point. All of the songs are about women. Now this in itself is not a huge problem, although it could prove somewhat stifling. The bigger issue is the nature of the lyrics. They appear to me to be of a bygone age. An age where Poison and Motley Cure walked the Earth...with no sense of irony. Lyrical content that would turn up on the more swaggering tracks by artists such as Buckcherry is ever-present here.

On their debut album in 1996 Danko Jones sang; "I got a white Cadillac …I keep the back seat for lovin'." On Below the Belt he sings; "I'll stab you in the back in two minutes flat and screw your girl in the back of my Cadillac." In my book, that doesn't suggest an awful lot of development or growing up has occurred over the past fourteen years. Other lyrical atrocities include the embarrassingly loose metaphor on 'Magic Snake' (need I go on?) and the gruff, misogynistic tones of 'The Sore Loser' where a woman is berated for allegedly losing her looks. All in all it is pretty unedifying stuff.

Danko Jones appear to have a loyal following, and I'm sure this will not disappoint them. For those who have managed to live with Danko in their lives until this point there is no need to open this particular can of worms. They open for Guns N' Roses in Belfast on Auguest 31st and in Dubln's O2 Arena on September 1st. If you happen to be there and want to shake your moneymaker without engaging your brain, you could do worse. Just don't let Danko near your girlfriend...

- D.Egan