Tuesday, August 11, 2009
#142. 'I like it a little better when you take it all off'
I don't know when exactly it happened, probably before I became a music lover at any level, but somewhere along the line mainstream rock music stopped being about getting laid. In theory that whole garage-rock revival thing that The Strokes brought about in the early decade should have fixed all that; garage was rock at its most primal and animalized which leads quite nicely to sex-soaked tunes. This was, of course, assuming that by 'garage rock' people were referring to stuff like Oblivians, the Gories or hell even earlier Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, which they obviously weren't. Bad enough that the band most responsible for the whole scene had one real moment of 'hey we're all gonna get LAID!' euphoria ("Juicebox," which sadly isn't on the list) but the bands they shone the spotlight in the general direction of had even less rawness on display. Sure, The Hives had the attitude and charisma to pull it off but they always came off as too sterile on record. The Vines were too mopey and acid casualty-led to appear sexy to anyone, and The White Stripes...well we're saving them for another day. Needless to say, the revival failed to deliver as far as primal sex-crazed mania goes, at least if you weren't Canadian and didn't get to know Danko Jones.
Jones' whole persona is pretty much Andrew W.K. if you replaced 'party' with 'fuck your girlfriend in the bathroom while you're out for a smoke then laugh in your face about it' in his cardinal life philosophy. Of course just like W.K. he's also pretty one-note. You only need one song to get his shtick, and "Bounce" is about as good as you're gonna find. His later offerings were a bit overly slicked over, and his only other early single that I can remember ("Cadillac") doesn't do quite as much for me. But "Bounce," his first single I'm pretty sure, hits the nail on the head as far as garage rock goes. It may be a bit more languid than the rawer stuff I mentioned earlier, grooving instead of pummeling, but it's got the one thing that most of the garage rock revival lacked: attitude. As far as musicality goes, there's nothing too special about "Bounce." It's a basic riff, even more basic solo and fairly pedestrian melody. In other words, it's the exact sort of thing that garage rock is based on. The whole song lives and dies by attitude, and that's not in short supply at all.
Jones makes up for the no-frills composition with his charisma more than his lyrics, which basically amount to 'you look good in everything, but better in nothing. Let's fuck.' Any other 00s garage rock revivalist tries that and he's a joke. Jones pulls it off with style though. Even the cheesiest business in the song comes off as something close to sexy, stuff like the falsetto on 'black kangoooooooooooooooooool' or the lip smacking in the third verse. The key to the whole thing is that it comes across as non-threatening first and foremost. It's more genuine as a sincere love song (OK, sex song if you wanna be a bit more accurate) than with the hint of menace or voyeurism the lyrics might carry in other hands. Jones has it worked out perfectly so he can be both a total horndog and an unabashed romantic when none of the other bands in the revival managed either with any degree of convincingness.