The ska community has been casting stones for the last eight years or so at the first band to legitimately meld ska and punk into one delicious sound, one of the genre's most recognizable names, two-time major label quitters Less Than Jake. I want to say that I've stuck with the band through thick and thin, through the critics and the cynics, but alas, the 2006 release In With the Out Crowd was too much to take for a thick-skinned kid whose punk leanings are firmly rooted in 90's ska.
IWTOC was too much to take. I didn't even listen to the entire album. I never gave it a chance. But it just didn't pull me in, and that first impression is big for me.
I just wanted to go up to LTJ and plead, "Say it ain't so Chris. Say it ain't so." Turns out, it wasn't so.
When I saw LTJ at the Chicago Warped Tour shortly after the release of IWTOC, Chris said something along the lines of "We know the new CD sucks, but our label is making us play at least three songs from it, so we'll try to get through them fast." Roger stepped in to try some damage control, but the damage couldn't be undone.
Even Less Than Jake didn't like their new album.
So I guess it was long coming when they decided to split from Warner Bros mid-2007, only 8 years following a similar split from -- you guessed it -- Capitol Records. We've heard that name before, haven't we?
On June 24th, LTJ will release GNV FLA on the band's brand new label, Sleep It Off Records. Aaaaaand twelve days before its release, the album leaked -- as most albums nowadays do. I happened to get an early taste of the album, and I have to admit: it's pretty damn tasty.
The album opens up with a slow, dancey ska tribute ("City of Gainesville"), but immediately breaks into the first of many fast-paced punk anthems. It's clear that LTJ sounds like they have something to prove as they work to quell sentiments that they're pop-punk-ska dinosaurs, rather than seasoned veterans or even legends. "The State of Florida" almost comes off as a song that just missed the cut for a new Rehasher (Roger's melodic-hardcore side project) album, but it gets the job done. "Does the Lion City Roar?" is an homage to "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts" without being too obvious. It's anthematic with a tinge of LTJ's newer, more cohesive style.
The one review I've seen of this album likens it to 2000's Borders and Boundaries, but I can hear some pretty prolific similarities to Losing Streak (which is still one of the greatest albums of all time). I've already given this one a few listens, and I really enjoy it.
The only serious negative: maybe I'm just going insane, but don't the vocals sound like they're being sung through a thin layer of cotton? I know the band wanted this recording to sound rawer, but the consistency doesn't fit for some reason.
As long as Less Than Jake keeps putting out solid records and I can still circle pit to "My Very Own Flag" at shows, I think I'll be okay.
"Tradition seems to stick / tradition seems to stick / tradition seems to stick to you, just like krazy glue."
- Chris Demakes, "Krazy Glue"