A lot of sameness from this Canadian hard rocker
2015's 'Fire Music' lifted Danko Jones to new highs in areas like Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland. This global success is the reward for two decades of hard rock work ethic, stretching from tours with the likes of Guns 'N Roses, Volbeat, and Ozzy and guesting on numerous albums including their own countrymen, Annihilator. This sort of reach is probably the attraction for Germany's AFM Records, who signed the band to a European deal for this 2017 'Wild Cat' release. The album is being courted three ways with AFM and Bad Taste across the pond and Eone in Canada. That's a lot of hands minding the purse strings...but that's just me.
Danko spoke with Brave Words earlier this year (http://bravewords.com/features/danko-jones-claws-and-effect) about the band's disappointment with albums like 'Never Too Loud' and 'Rock and Roll is Black and Blue'. The band is hoping to see 'Wild Cat' in the same light as well-received albums like 'Fire Music' and 'Below the Belt'. I thought those albums were on very different platforms. 'Fire Music' was exactly as the title suggests, a furious bonfire of punk intensity and raw rock. It is a top tier effort. 'Below the Belt' had the same overall entertainment value, but nestled its sound in thick grooves of polished pure rock and roll.
So, where's 'Wild Cat' hunting?
'Wild Cat' just sort of sits on the Danko Jones shelf as "another good record". It isn't as good as it's sibling 'We Sweat Blood' (2003), which is the kind of Danko album it is--bluesy good-time songs about bluesy good times. Lead-off single "My Little RnR" is fun, up-beat yet sounds very familiar to prior tracks. I like the driving rhythm, start-stop percussion and fuzzy bass-lines. But this is album EIGHT. The opener, "I Gotta Rock", possesses the same familiar vibes and I could almost hum the whole chorus upon playing it the very first time. That's not good--or is it? Perhaps the fan-base like what they like and expect this sort of single payer player that needs to rock. "Going Out Tonight" closely resembles the punk mentality of 'Fire Music', almost like an ode to Misfits with plenty of "Oooh Ooohs" and purposefully clangy drums that match a simplistic bass note. I adore the band's fire on "Let's Start Dancing", a furious fast-paced cut that has Danko over the top. Love the "That cat can swing" line --damn right. Those are the goods.
The bad--stuff like the title track seemingly just goes nowhere. "She Likes It", "Success in Bed" and "Revolution" are just standard volume feedback. They aren't terrible by any means, in fact if it was anyone other than Danko Jones I would stand up and shout. But again, it's record number EIGHT and I just want a real break-through sort of album and we may already have it.
Danko Jones designs music to crash your car into a swimming pool. It's music to screw in a bathroom stall. It should be care-free, good times galore without social commentary or political bullshit. Danko Jones delivers on all fronts and 'Wild Cat' is a good album that will probably prowl into my top 25 of the year. But, I'm comparing it to his catalogue and prior efforts and it's a lot of sameness. Is that good or bad? That's your cat to skin.