Less Than Jake, Sounding The Alarm in 2017


by Matt Balogh

Less Than Jake has been in the business for 25 years now, bringing fame to the sound that is Ska Punk.

In the mid to late 90s, bands like Reel Big Fish, Goldfinger, Sublime and Less Than Jake have helped to popularize the third-wave of ska to a mass market. This following gained attention of major record to take interest, allowing Less Than Jake to get their big break on Capitol Records.

In 1996, Less Than Jake released their cult classic album Losing Streak, widely accepted as one of the best albums of the 90s punk and ska scene. From then on, they have put out six more full lengths, five compilation albums, and eight EPs.

Their sound was definitive in the start of the era, providing a mix of fast-paced punk music, with a switch of reggae and ska influenced riffs. This mixture was the base of many bands music at the time.

Throughout the years, the band had experimented with combinations of their signature style, and even straying to more pop-punk sounds, which was received with mixed reception from long-time fans.

More recently in 2013, Less Than Jake had released their eighth album See The Light, a strong effort that proved to both fans and critics that they have not lost their flair. The album consisted of 13 songs that flowed perfectly from track to track, being the opposite of a boring listen. Generating crowd favorite live tracks, and some of the catchiest music they have released to date, See The Light had introduced the band into the 2010s: a decade relatively dry in the vein of ska punk.

After four years without new music, the band had released Sound The Alarm on Feb 3, 2017. The new EP consists of seven songs, but each have strong hooks and melodies to really give the release its punch. While instrumentally similar to their albums See The Light, Anthem and Hello Rockview, the band has shown that they have not lost their style, but have evolved to a new layer of their energetic form.

To introduce the EP, the band ‘sounds the alarm’ with their opening track “Call To Arms,” that begins with a bass riff that ignites the song into a mosh-appropriate groove full of action. Showing their progression in stylistic changes, “Whatever the Weather” works as a slower paced jam, fit with a usual hook in the chorus that is lifted by the reggae upstrokes of the guitar, then transitioning into a full-fledged power chord jam. Similar in style, “Years of Living Dangerously” incorporates the ska elements along with an alternative rock sound and structure.

Overall, the band has not changed much, which could lead as both a blessing and a curse in this case. The EP also seems to go by fast, even at seven songs, which may have worked better in a full length situation. However, the EP allows for a nice refresher for long-time fans. It serves as a gateway to the band’s music through their new contract with Pure Noise Records, an indie label that is very popular among fans of indie rock and pop punk in the new scene.

Produced under the wing of Roger Lima, the band’s bassist, the EP marks one of his many projects in the production chair. Along with his production work, the album features Lima’s vocals on a large amount of the album, as opposed to their previous work, where guitarist Chris DeMakes usually covers more of the singing.

A pretty great effort for the 25 year old group, making fans happily anticipate any upcoming projects. I give the album an overall rating of 7/10.