Most often referred to as a ska punk band due to their brass section, Less Than Jake are a sunny, American, pop punk band from Gainesville, Florida. They are probably best known this side of the water but they still feature regularly on the annual Warped tour and have an extensive co-headline tour planned with San Diego’s’ Pepper.
LTJ celebrate their 25th anniversary this year with a new EP which will be officially released on Friday February 3. Sound The Alarm, like their previous work, hangs on the twin vocals of founder members Chris DeMakes and Roger Lima.
The band have spoken of a preference for recording and releasing EPs since returning to the independent scene. Sound The Alarm is the third such release in the last five years following Greetings From Less Than Jake and Seasons Greetings From Less Than Jake and is their first record since 2013’s See The Light album.
After years of releasing records through various major and independent labels Less Than Jake has found a new home at the Southern California based Pure Noise Records. They now write their songs on acoustic guitars and it shows. This set of tunes is very mellow. LTJ sound their age and appear to be growing old gracefully. They have never been the confrontational type of punk band, they’re a party band and that’s what you get here.
‘Call To Arms’ kicks off with bass guitar and high energy riffing. The chorus is everything that you’ve come to expect from LTJ. There’s a handbrake key change for the final chorus before ‘Whatever The Weather’s brass and bass intro. The slower tempo suits the vocal lines very well; so much so that when the guitars arrive for the chorus, they kind of spoil the vibe. The song has a Madness feel and is sonically the most complicated tune on the EP.
The brass on the intro to ‘Bomb Drop’ intertwines inextricably with the guitars. The energy and melody is irresistible. This is LTJ at their strongest. ‘Welcome To My Life’ is slower, and the ska influence comes to the fore. ‘Good Sign’ is a bit pedestrian. ‘Years Of Living Dangerously’ sways gently with a nostalgic vibe.
‘Things Change’, which was streamed on the band’s website at the beginning of January, is the logical choice for the lead single. It sounds the most like old school LTJ but really the more mature work on the likes of ‘Bomb Drop’ and ‘Whatever The Weather’ are more representative of today’s LTJ. The lyrics are humorous and self-deprecating. The melodies are infectious and the rhythms are just right for pogoing.
Sound The Alarm may not win them new fans but it will certainly keep the fans happy. The Floridians can still pump out quality tunes. If they continue to concentrate on EPs rather than albums, they may maintain this kind of quality control.
1. Call to Arms
2. Whatever the Weather
3. Bomb Drop
4. Welcome to My Life
5. Good Sign
6. Years of Living Dangerously
7. Things Change