Danko Jones – Power Trio (Album Review)

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Punk gives rock the blues.

Few things will establish a band more thoroughly than a work horse approach to musical output and a correspondingly rigorous ethic on the road, and that’s been Canadian rockers Danko Jones since their 1996 inception. Born out of an era just after the initial exploration of punk blues, a hybrid of the early 90s revival of interest in the proto-punk exploits of such outfits as The Stooges and Captain Beefheart with the blues-driven garage rock of the 60s, they could be rightly deemed a throwback of sorts. Then again, such labels don’t really seem to be on the radar of the guitarist/front man who lent his name to the project, and each album put out under the Danko Jones name has been an exercise in rocking hard while being largely oblivious to the trends of the day.

“Power Trio”, a rather blatantly self-descriptive album title to boot, is basically the sort of live fast, die and be reborn to do it all over again experience that one comes to expect from a high energy rocking opus. Each of its eleven musical chapters are an exercise in rigorous simplicity and brevity, with scarcely a single one of them going much past the 3-minute mark or going into remotely experimental territory. Basically the only thing that keeps these songs from being a wholly orthodox exercise in punk rock cliché is Danko’s penchant for short lead guitar bursts with a highly bluesy edge, as well as his characteristically husky and gritty baritone vocal assault, which sounds far more at home in the era of 60s and 70s hard rock than the snarling irreverent howl of the typical late 70s punk rock icon.

To be fair, this band is not merely a charismatic front man with two tagalongs holding up the foundation, but a very tight and together arrangement. The highly exposed nature of rustic and raucous rockers such as the opening cruncher “I Want Out” and the slightly swifter but very much by the numbers rocking groove of “Saturday” are held up nicely by a military-like precision put forth by bassist John Calabrese and drummer Rich Knox, while Danko’s tasteful lead breaks don’t want for a foundation when veering away from the verse and choruses that provide the meat and potatoes of each anthem. The almost rambling character of said impresario’s vocal approach on “Good Looking” presents another standout moment by finding the band veering almost totally away from the punk paradigm (apart from the heightened decibel count) for pure blues rock territory.

Though a consistently well put together album, things start to ebb and flow a bit towards the middle of things. Beginning with the somewhat AC/DC-like simplicity of the lyrically discontent “Ship Of Lies”, Danko and company start dropping the energy level a bit and lose some of that initial thunder, hitting a sort of mid-tempo malaise on the plodding party anthem “Raise Some Hell”. Things recover their thunder a bit on the Aerosmith-like cruiser “Blue Jean Denim Jumpsuit” and the upbeat stride of “Get To You” comes with enough attitude and grit to get things wholly back on track for some truly raucous fun on “Dangerous Kiss” and the fastest and most rambling, punk-driven fit of intensity “Flaunt It”. Things end on a somewhat unusual note with a Cheap Trick-inspired fanfare anthem “Start The Show”, then again, the last song is usually the final precursor to a tour so there is a method behind this guitar happy closer.

Those looking for a collection of fun, rock-infused bangers that take few chances in the originality department will definitely find a solid album here. By the band’s own admission, they are more interested in doing their own thing rather than starting some new craze or reinvent the entire rock genre. Nevertheless, the highly rudimentary formula at play tends to wear a bit thin prior to hitting its 38 minute duration, working better in smaller doses of a few songs at a time. The majority of the songs do a fair job of standing on their own merits, and undeniably infectious bangers such as “Saturday”, “Flaunt It” and “Dangerous Kiss” would fit on any rock fan’s playlist. Not quite the best outing by this veteran outfit of the post-80s hard rock scene, but definitely solid enough to leave an impression.

Released By: Mate In Germany  / Sonic Unyon
Released On: August 27th, 2021
Genre: Punk / Hard Rock

Musicians:

  • Danko Jones / Guitars, Vocals
  • Rich Knox / Drums
  • John Calabrese / Bass

“Power Trio” track-listing:

  1. I Want Out
  2. Good Lookin’
  3. Saturday
  4. Ship of Lies
  5. Raise Some Hell
  6. Blue Jean Denim Jumpsuit
  7. Get To You
  8. Dangerous Kiss
  9. Let’s Rock Together
  10. Dangerous Kiss
  11. Start The Show


7.3 Very Good

A veritable train that’s been rolling along for 25 years, power trio Danko Jones opts for a self-descriptive title for their 10th full length studio effort, bringing that same energy driven, punk-infused garage rock niche that’s been paying them dividends since they began.

  • Songwriting 7.5
  • Musicianship 7
  • Originality 7.5
  • Production 7
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