Distributor/label URL: AFM Records
Buy album: http://www.dankojones.com/pre-order-a-rock-supreme/
Band website: http://www.dankojones.com/pre-order-a-rock-supreme/
Danko Jones – Vocals, guitar
John Calabrese – Bass
Rich Knox – Drums
1.) I’m in a Band
2.) I Love Love
3.) We’re Crazy
4.) Dance Dance Dance
5.) Lipstick City
6.) Fists Up High
8.) You Got Today
9.) That Girl
10.) Burn in Hell
11.) You Can’t Keep Us Down
“A Rock Supreme” has been my first real exposure to Danko Jones. I’ve heard of the Canadian rock trio numerous times over the years (mostly about their first few albums from the early 2000s), but have never actually sampled their brand of punkishly tinged rock ‘n’ roll.
What I find surprises me in its tone and approach, for while I didn’t expect anything especially heavy or forceful, I didn’t expect it to be quite so playful either. What we have on A Rock Supreme is shamelessly sleazy, party-focused cock rock, but with a very modern sound production. It’s a lot of the classic elements at the core of rock music, but mixed with a dose of almost Sum 41-esque pop-punk and a very “party hard!” attitude that puts the listener in mind of Andrew W.K.’s signature style. This is rock music that’s here to have fun, and insists you join in.
But much like a real person so vigorously and eagerly insisting that you join in on the fun, it can end up hampering its own efforts. There is certainly a joy to be found here in the sheer exuberance with which Danko Jones deliver. This is the sound of a band simply loving what they do and doing what they love. But the very force with which they do it, the way it’s always so very in-your-face, can become off-putting. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t cringing at a lot of the tropes on full, proud display here.
There’s no tongue-in-cheek teasing or irony here: songs like “I Love Love”, “Dance Dance Dance” and “I’m in a Band” are exactly what you expect from their titles, every bit as simplistic as they sound. The opening track involves not just copious amounts of cowbell, but a genuine cry of “kick it!”. Mr. Jones is apparently “on a mission to get some kissin'”. “That Girl” calls back to songs like “Stacy’s Mom” or “Teenage Dirtbag”, yearning for a particular lady, yet comes from men in their mid-40s. The music treads the edge of self-parody, but this is no Steel Panther.
There’s really nothing wrong with cutting loose and just having some fun. Not all music needs to be striving for intellectualism or progressive song structures. Nor does every fun-loving album need to be an outright parody. But I find myself comparing A Rock Supreme with Beast in Black’s new album, as both have that feel of a band just going with it and making some fun music. Both revel in the classic tropes of their respective styles, and have a shameless cheesiness to them. But for me, Beast in Black works much better because the music feels more like it has a timeless bite. Danko Jones have the same attitude and plenty of energy, but lack the song-writing to really back it up. This makes it much harder to lose yourself and surrender to the cheese. The listener ends up cringing more often than whooping and cheering along.
Even my Canadian girlfriend didn’t like this offering from her countrymen, and what more do you need than that, really? Meanwhile I just feel like I’m far too sober for this…
To enjoy this, you really need to be some of: A) drunk, B) under 21, C) at a party. If you can tick two of those boxes, you might get something out of this. But outside of that, the feel-good vibes here are too overdone and lacking in real punch. The album has a good attitude (“You Can’t Keep Us Down” in particular is the highlight here, having more drive and rapid-fire vocal acrobatics), but having that attitude doesn’t automatically make something good.