We're a month in to 2017 and the year has already been thriving with new releases flooding in from every genre imaginable. One EP that has sprung from the woodworks and taken me by surprise is from the US ska punk legends Less Than Jake. Their 5-year musical drought has been broken with their debut release on Pure Noise Records Sound The Alarm
This record starts with 'Call To Arms' which rolls straight into a solo prominent punchy bassline with a riff of notes dotted about for a few counts before launching into the fast paced normality of Less Than Jake. This song gives off a more pop-punk vibe and ultimately Chris Demakes’ rough vocals tie together the whole thing. As the song progresses, the radio friendly chorus quickly hooks you. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Less Than Jake track without their brass section making an appearance towards the chorus.
Moving on into 'Whatever the Weather', we hear Less Than Jake hanging up their attitudes and slowing down to a softer tempo. The brass section becoming more prominent and the relaxed rhythm really showing their ska roots but still makes sure their catchy chorus shines through with a slightly more upbeat chord progression.
Both "Welcome to my life" and "Years of Living Dangerously", continue to give off the same vibes as those of "Whatever the Weather". It's clearly evident that the lads in Less Than Jake are taking their time to slow down and work on their lyrical content and song writing as they age, but the thing that jumps out at me the most in these tracks are their intros. This is where I see that they are slowly evolving, and although they may not be making any ground breaking differences with their sound that we have grown to love, I feel like I can hear modern influences shining through. The first 40 seconds of "Welcome to My Life" sounding like they've taken tips from The 1975 and the mellow riffs of "Years of Living Dangerously" throughout the track sounds as if it could be placed over a The Gaslight Anthem song.
Lastly we get down to "Things Change", the irony because it seems nothing here has changed for Less Than Jake. It's a typical track that would be churned out by these veterans of the ska-punk scene, something that could easily have been released anywhere between the early 90's to the present day. It ticks all the boxes for anyone who's been on this scene since the start and the new generation of fans. Lots of brass, a bass orientated verse, the generic "LTJ" chord progressions and catchy vocals making it easy on the ears for everyone.
There's nothing overly empowering or new with this album, it's just another wholesome catchy Less Than Jake album that will no doubt be belted out easily by the crowds at their upcoming tour dates. The band themselves have gone on record and stated that "Putting out new records for LTJ has become a lesson in a record collecting". This can go either way really, the over view of lack in progression may seem lazy to new ears but to others, their long-term fans, it is another fantastic EP full of good vibes to get them moving. I'm sure having eight studio albums and being around since ‘92 these guys have nothing to prove to their peers and fans although this provides a definite teaser to keep them ticking over until the release of their next full-length.
Review by Stevie Swarts