Album Reviews

Review: Less than Jake – See the Light

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}Five years removed from their last studio album, Gainesville pezcore kings Less than Jake show no signs of aging. 20 years and some 8 albums in, it is quite the contrary as See the Light is the most energetic and urgent album the band have released since their Losing Streak days. After spending some subdued years trying new sounds (most notably with In With The Out Crowd), the band have continued what they rekindled in 2008’s GNV FLA; third wave ska’s finest amalgamation with punk.

From the get go, tracks like “Good Enough” and the terrific “Jump” continue a legacy they first cemented with songs like “My Very Own Flag” and “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”. The energy through See the Light is one of the most impressive aspects of the record; “Sunstroke” sets the melodic punk bar high, while songs like “Bless the Cracks” give Hello Rockview songs a run for their money.

The band ventured into more pop oriented territory with In With the Out Crowd, and while results were decidedly mixed, songs like “American Idle” prove that the band can still be accessible without losing their trademark vitality. LTJ’s horn section is as prevalent as ever, something that became sorely lacking during their second run through the majors.

Less than Jake are bastions of a generation now more than a decade removed. When the youth landscape was filled with third rate, third wave ska bands, there was always the select few that carried their craft with distinction. It was the Mustard Plugs, the Buck-O-Nines, the Mu330s and of course, the Less than Jakes that always gave ska/punk an underlying credibility as it progressed into the mainstream of the late 90s. Truth is, it never went away, it just lost all the excess baggage. See the Light is the nostalgia, the present, and the tomorrow of a generation still holding its own.

[rating=4]

 

Less than Jake’s See the Light is out now via Fat Wreck.

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Headlines, Music

My Money is Still on Less Than Jake

It feels good to be this old, that’s the initial reaction I got when I first listened to Less Than Jake’s new single (listen below), the first from their forthcoming eighth studio album. See The Light as it’s called, is rather apropos.

Truth is, I can’t tolerate 96% of music that flies under the “punk” or “hardcore” or “extreme” flag these days. But when I heard “My Money Is Still On The Long Shot”, I took a moment to reflect back to about 1996/1997 where I’m sure I spent a great deal of time in the pit with some of you older lot. But favourite memories of those days weren’t the times I got kicked in the face by Doc Martens, but rather the times I… wait for it… skanked to the glorious sounds of third-wave ska, punctuated by pop punk melodies and a grand ol’ horn section.

You see, the upbeat music in the late 1990s for us “rebellious punks” didn’t have the constant draining melancholy of The Wonder Years, Man Overboard et al, it instead reflected a certain optimism skating alongside realism.

Less than Jake of course, were the (pez)kings of this brief but populace era and this new song is both a remarkable throwback and evolution of a sound thought long gone.

Is it as simple as saying that when we were kids and our “shit music” (ska and pop punk- the real kind- for me) was infinitely better than the kids today and their brand of “shit music”? To me it does, and I believe I’m not the only one who feels that way either.

Looking back at one my favourite Less than Jake songs from their debut album and comparing it to this new track, I’m bound not by their similarities (they are not), but how they both make me feel, almost 20 years apart.

“9th & Pine” (1996)

 

“My Money Is On The Long Shot” (2013)

 

Out with the new, in with the old crowd.

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Less than Jake’s new album, See the Light, is out November 12th on Fat Wreck.

 

 

 

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Featured, Music

Invincible: Rest In Peace Tony Sly

How does one find the right words? For someone who admired and respected Tony Sly from a distance, the day has been part coming to terms of what has happened and part sheer disbelief. Almost two decades since I first came across No Use For A Name, the music Sly and his bandmates wrote still resonate greatly, and a small part of myself just wanted to do what I’m sure he had done for so long; write down and express the many things that brewed beneath the surface.

Leche Con Carne and their spot on Survival Of The Fattest were my introduction to the band and I was immediately taken aback by songs like “Soulmate” and “Justified Black Eye”, music that could be both urgent and accessible. Their music was and is a perfect blend of aggression and unrelenting melody. It’s my kind of tune.

I can’t profess to know much about him, but from his music I know that he had a daughter, liked Irish music and that he made many friends on the tour circuit. The latter easy to see with so many of his contemporaries expressing their sadness today, and it’s a pretty definitive list of bands I grew up with, loved and listened: The Bouncing Souls, Less than Jake, Face to Face, Strung Out, Bad Religion, The Ataris.

I saw No Use For a Name live twice. Once back in 99/00 at Slim’s in San Francisco when they opened for NOFX, and the second at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne on their Keep Them Confused tour. Both shows were energized by Tony’s enthusiasm; no matter how long it seemed he’d been touring. And I for one, am happy I got to see some of my favorite songs performed from the best place possible; from the pit.

No one would ever call me a musician (one of the bands I was in back in the day covered “Straight From The Jacket” if that means anything) so I guess this is just from a fan. I never got to meet Tony, and I can’t imagine what his family and close friends are dealing with at the moment. But for someone who grew up on the other side of the planet, his music traveled across oceans and through borders and changed the life of some kid he never met. I don’t know why he died and I don’t really want to know, but I wanted to say thanks.

“Somebody get me off this lonely sad parade.
The differences a hundred miles, but a couple months away.
I’m saying hello just to say goodbye.”

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Uncategorized

Mike Park to reunite all Asian Man bands for 15th anniversary?

In a news story we inexplicably missed last week, Mike Park, the founder and head of super DIY labeAsian Man Records, is planning to reunite every single band that has ever released anything on the label!

The plan is to have everyone play the 15th Anniversary festival celebrating the label’s vast accomplishments, set to take place June 16th, 17th, 18th of next year in San Francisco.

While many of the bands that have released material on the label are still thriving today (including Alkaline Trio, Less than Jake, The Queers, The Lawrence Arms and Buck-O-Nine to name a few), there are a few notable defunct bands that will certainly have us considering a trip out to San Francisco if reunited. It’s all rather ambitious at the moment, and while we’re keeping this as more of a hopeful thing than a reality, we sincerely support Mike Park in his endeavors to create what would truly be, the one music festival making an effort to see.

Here now, are videos of our favorite Asian Man bands long gone:

Slapstick – “There’s a Metalhead in the Parking Lot” (still the greatest ska/punk song ever written)

The Broadways – “15 Minutes”

Skankin’ Pickle – “I Missed The Bus” (Mike Park’s band from the late 80s/early 90s)

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Music

Less than Jake announce 2011 North American tour

Ska-punkers Less than Jake are doing what they’ve continued to do for almost 20 years- tour, tour, tour!

Fresh from the release of their TV/EP (a record covering TV themes and jingles), the band have now announced their itinerary for the early parts of next year. The busy schedule will see them trek across the United States through the months of January and February before heading down to Australia in March for the Soundwave Festival. This hectic schedule is on top of their already busy end of year that currently sees them in the Far East and Europe.

Less than Jake are also working on the follow-up to 2008’s GNV FLA. Their extensive tour schedule can be seen below. This song is still our favorite LTJ song.

Tour dates:
JANUARY
19 Sebastian, FL – Captain Hiram’s – Grand Sand Backstage
20 Jacksonville, FL – Freebird Live
21 Durham, NC – Motorco Music Hall
22 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
23 Norfolk, VA – The Norva
25 Stroudsburg, PA – Sherman Theater
26 Poughkeepsie, NY – The Chance
27 Baltimore, MD – Sonar
28 Hartford, CT – Webster Theatre
29 Sayreville, NJ – Starland Ballroom
30 Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
31 Rochester, NY – Water Street Music Hall

FEBRUARY
1 Millvale, PA – Mr. Small’s Theatre
2 Cleveland, OH – House of Blues – Cleveland
3 Chicago, IL – The Bottom Lounge
4 Des Moines, IA – Peoples Court
5 Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
7 Grand Rapids, MI – The Intersection
8 Lexington, KY – Buster’s
9 Covington, KY – The Mad Hatter?
10 Nashville, TN – Exit In
11 Sauget, IL – Pop’s
12 Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater
13 Tulsa, OK – The Marquee
14 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live
15 San Antonio, TX – Backstage Live
17 Colorado Springs, CO – The Black Sheep
18 Denver, CO – The Summit Music Hall
19 Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex
21 Anaheim, CA – House of Blues – Anaheim
22 Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst
26 Brisbane – RNA Showgrounds (Soundwave Festival)
27 Sydney – Eastern Creek Raceway (Soundwave Festival)

MARCH
04 Melbourne – Melbourne Showgrounds (Soundwave Festival)
05 Adelaide – Bonython Park (Soundwave Festival)
07 Perth – Steel Blue Oval (Soundwave Festival)

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