"One day I'm gonna write a book and let everybody know how to do it; seems there's a lot of people around who want to see if I can prove it! I've been a rock prodigy since the age of 20 and my proof, my proof is RIGHT NOW!" Danko Jones have never been a band that sounded the least bit short on confidence, and those lines from "Make You Mine" confirm these guys had the sweat and the attitude years before they landed a record deal. Garage Rock! A Collection of Lost Songs from 1996-1998 consists of rough demos Danko Jones cut during their first two years of existence, before making their debut album, Born a Lion, in 1999. If this stuff sounds raw and scrappy -- especially the nine tunes from a four-track session somewhere in Toronto -- the trio already feels tight and boasts attitude to spare, with namesake guitarist and vocalist Jones spitting fire and laying out a potent array of downstrokes, while bassist John Calabrese and drummer Atom Willard hold down the beats while keeping the songs in fourth gear at all times. Ultimately, Garage Rock! sounds like a less precise version of Danko Jones as we know them today, but despite the lower fidelity and relatively simpler attack (which is still pretty furious by the standards of most bands), it sounds like they knew what they wanted and how to do it on day one, and the real task was getting their skills on par with their ambitions. Danko Jones are as tough and forceful as they want to be in 2014, but Garage Rock! confirms they could write great songs and raise hell long before that, and they were a blast right out of the gate.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming