Less Than Jake – Greetings And Salutations – Review

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Less Than Jake has been making a habit of releasing one-off EPs for pretty much their entire musical career, most recently the two releases, “Greetings from Less Than Jake,” and the follow-up, “Seasons Greetings from Less Than Jake.” Apparently the group has now fallen into the category of bands that release full-length albums made entirely of songs from prior EPs; namely the two mentioned above. But seeing as the songs that are featured on “Greetings And Salutations From Less Than Jake” were written in 1996 and kept in a secretive LTJ time-capsule until their were recently rerecorded, I guess we can cut them some slack; especially since they haven’t put out a traditional quality full-length since 1996′s “Losing Streak.” Ok ok, so their semi-recent 2006 release “In With The Out Crowd” was pretty good, but don’t let anyone hear we said that. We could lose our 90′s punk rock credentials.

Seeing that Less Than Jake recently returned to their ska-influenced horns and grooves with the release of their full-length, “GNV FLA,” it shouldn’t be a surprise to early-era fans that much of this album sounds like it’s straight from 1996, which is pretty much the last time they had horns and care-free punk in every song. You don’t get the full-fledged trombones and swift, up-strum guitars until the ska purist songs “Goodbye Mr. Personality” and “Can’t Yell Any Louder,” (with lead singers Chris and Roger awkwardly crooning in the charming “good because it’s bad” kind of way) but you’ll find that every other track leading up to and following them has loads of quickly thumbed bass and horns to hype up the ska inner child in all of us. This includes an intoxicating sax solo from Peter Wasilewskion the fast paced, “A Return to Headphones,” as well some pretty busy percussion and quick guitars on the balanced radio-friendly song, “View From The Middle.”  It’s nice to know that the listeners of LTJ can grow out of the highschool ska phase and then pick it up so seamlessly after so many years. Even though we left the music for a reason; stupid horns and Reel Big Fish, and Flogging Molly. Uh…..I don’t know where that came from. Moving on.

Songs like “Oldest Trick In The Book,” and “Done And Dusted,” see the band take an existential view of their work and the world (something they have done before but not as potently), with lyrics like “All I know, I’ll change the world before I go. It’s my time to make, that’s all I know“, and “Summer’s gone, the Florida sun sums up the best advice I ever gave: don’t forget where you came from,” which is a much heavier subject matter than the normal thoughts of having drinks with friends and ways to make your dreads stay together longer. It’s nice to see that maturity was in their song writing even back in 1996 when all of these songs were originally written. The lead-out song “Life Led Out Loud” caps off this double EP turned full-length quite nicely, combining all the bands positive elements (up-beat horns, well-timed percussion, anthem shouts, and so on).

For those of you looking for advice on whether to check this out or not, “Greetings And Salutations” may not re-invent the wheel (or even attempt to do so), but one thing is does do is have the spirit and energy of a nostalgic 90′s ska band at its roots and there has to be something said for that. Less Than Jake has been hit or miss with many of their albums, but this record feels more whole, like it comes from a better time. A time without things like iTunes single whoring, where bands like Reel Big Fish can successfully cover a-Ha‘s “Take On Me” (sheer lunacy now-a-days) and where no one irrationally hates ska. Quality records don’t always have to blow us away, sometimes we’re just happy when they don’t crash and burn, and this record has quality. [Staff]

Score: 3.5 (out of 5)

Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Record Label: Fat Wreck Records
Genre: Ska
RIYL: Reel Big Fish, Big D And The Kids Table, Mustard Plug

Track Listing:
1. The New Auld Lang Syne
2. Younger Lungs
3. Goodbye, Mr. Personality
4. A Return to Headphones
5. Harvey Wallbanger
6. Flag Holders Union
7. I Can’t Yell Any Louder
8. View from the Middle
9. Oldest Trick in the Book
10. Done and Dusted
11. Finer Points of Forgiveness
12. Life Led Out Loud

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