Sleep It Off Records
Less Than Jake’s idea for this EP is genius. Take sixteen famous TV theme songs or commercials, re-record them with a unique ska-punk flare and crank the sixteen tracks out in less than twelve minutes. It’s a comical, distinctive and fascinating concept that leaves any other concept album in the dust.
Now, that’s not saying that TV/EP is a must-have, nor is it close to the band’s best material. But just like their Greased EP (which saw them cover songs from the John Travolta musical Grease), TV/EP is a worthy, entertaining and fun listen.
It starts off oddly though with the theme song from the new tween oriented show i-Carly. Not only is this the second longest track on the record (at a whopping 1:11), but it doesn’t have the same cultural impact that others too. I had never heard the song before and really you need to be familiar with the original tunes to truly appreciate what Less Than Jake is doing here; and since I’m not at all familiar with i-Carly,TV/EP starts off on the wrong foot. In a way, Laverne & Shirley fails for that same reason – it’s the longest song (1:14) and covers a theme song that I don’t know at all.
Luckily the EP picks up after the rocky start, with a Hungry Hungry Hippos commercial before it launches into an insanely energetic Animaniacs theme song that uses Less Than Jake’s horn section to great success. Other successful tunes include their take on They Might Be Giants’ Malcolm In The Middle theme song (yes, I loved that show so much I actually knew who sung the theme song) and Roger-ledThat’s 70s Show theme. The kids cartoon-combo of Scooby Doo and Spongebob Squarepants – which, oddly enough, doesn’t sound like Less Than Jake at all but still sounds awesome – works as a nice one-two punch only separated by an eleven second Kit-Kat commercial.
The commercials can be hit or miss. The Big Mac commercial, while comical, seems way out of place sonically but FreeCreditReport.com ends the EP perfectly. Plus, who hasn’t sung the Osacr Meyer song once or twice? Now we have a punk rock version to sing along to and I, for one, am stoked about that.
A must-have? Far from it. But a fun filled twelve minutes? You bet your ass.
Sleep It Off Records
Cast your mind back to one day last summer, when Less Than Jake released Greetings From… – the first of new material since 2008’s GNV FLA. Skip forward to February 2012 and we’ve been treated to yet another surprise release from the band. This time in the form of Greetings From…’s counterpart Seasons Greetings…
Opening track The New Auld Lang Syne surprises me a little, in that it kicks off with a fade in of Chris DeMakes’ throaty ‘whoa ohs’ rather than the straight-up-in-your-face approach that Less Than Jakeusually take. Once the track gets going, though, it proves itself to be a contender for the ultimate summer jam – combining fast paced punk rock and a powerful horn section that doesn’t take its foot off the break throughout.
Done And Dusted, on the other hand, completely contrasts the majority of Seasons Greetings… and upon the first few listens, the slower vibes of the track make it almost forgettable. It’s the likes of Finer Points Of Forgiveness that really stand out and make up for it though, a track that mixes fast paced punk rock with powerful horn parts to produce a manic two and a half minute sound clash that is ultimately smoothed over by Roger Manganelli’s melodic vocals to prove that twenty years down the line, Less Than Jake still have it, whatever ‘it’ is.
The EPmay not be Less Than Jake’s greatest effort, but it still packs a punch that you can’t ignore. Although I’m yet to listen to it as relentlessly as I have it’s counterpart, there’s something that will always keep me coming back to this band no matter how much my taste in music changes. If you’re looking for upbeat ska punk melodies twisted with down but not out lyricism as it should be, then look no further.
Sleep It Off Records
Less Than Jake left Sire and they wanted to make sure you knew about it. Promising to return to the sound that they built their career on, the ska punk act proudly self-released their new album, GNV FLA,claiming that having complete control over the album will enable them to make the record they wanted to make. Fans ate up the promotion, the first single sparked interest and GNV FLA became one of the more highly anticipated releases of the summer.
For the most part, Less Than Jake fulfilled their fans expectations as GNV FLA sees the band amping up the speed a lot and adding in some more pronounced ska elements. They’ve piled up the skate punk aspect of their sound on tracks like This One Is Going To Leave A Bruise (a perfect mosh pit anthem), Summon Monsters and Abandon Ship by adding in intense bass kick amongst the thundering drums and crunchy guitar riffs that coincide with a mid nineties skate punk band. Right there you see the Losing Streak sound coming up, harder, faster, more intense than anything the band has done recently; but they haven’t forgotten their ska roots either.
Then the band delivered countless upstrokes and two tone melodies on GNV FLA to get the listener bouncing on their feet again. GNV FLA also sees a triumphant return of horns, somwthing which both In With The Out Crowd and Anthem were severely lacking. They’ve filled up every waking moment with trombones, trumpets and sax parts. It adds an element of excitement that was missing in their major label releases and makes songs such as The Space They Can’t Touch, Conviction Notice, and Does The Lion City Still Roar? much more enjoyable because of it.
But even though GNV FLA is the band’s strongest release in years, the anticipation that was built up became so strong it has forced some people to overlook some of the more negative aspects of the releases. Not that there are many downsides on the release, there are some which shouldn’t be overlooked. First is the production; while light years better than In With The Out Crowd, GNV FLA still has some moments of mass overproduction. In fact, the album kicks off with the most pronounced mistake in that aspect. Roger’s vocals on City of Gainesville sound almost shinny and the only way you’re able to look past it is to dive into the upstroke in the background; and the fact that they blast out The State Of Florida afterwards helps a bit too. Sadly moments that feel a little too slick are scattered around the record, most are miniscule and passable but it’s still there and it’s still prominent. It lacks a grainy element that made their earlier work so monumental; and the fade out on The Devil In The DNA is slightly annoying too.
Still, GNV FLA is impressive. Any fans of the band, or fans of ska in general, should check it out as they won’t be disappointed; just don’t expect a life changing release either.
Seminal ska act Less Than Jake has announced their latest release will take the form of an album titled TV/EP which will include sixteen tracks. Don’t let the track listing fool you, but the EP will only run thirteen minutes in length, making for an average track length well under a minute. The idea is to create an album that captures the disjointed feeling of flipping through television stations.
The album is set for an October 12, 2010 release on their own Sleep It Off Records. , and serve as a follow up to 2008’s GNV FLA.
Sleep It Off Records
on September 21st, 2008 at Edmonton Event Centre - Edmonton, Alberta