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Less Than Jake - GNV FLA (Cover Artwork)

Less Than Jake

Less Than Jake: GNV FLAGNV FLA (2008)
Sleep It Off Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: tommy_jarvisveggieska
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I don't trust people. When one of my favorite bands goes (back) to a major label to put out (mostly) trash for several years, and then blames the (weak) output on the label, whose side am I supposed to take? It's nice to stand by your band and accuse the label of steering and using scare tactics ("N.
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I don't trust people. When one of my favorite bands goes (back) to a major label to put out (mostly) trash for several years, and then blames the (weak) output on the label, whose side am I supposed to take? It's nice to stand by your band and accuse the label of steering and using scare tactics ("No ska on the next record, or we'll pay Fat Mike to cut your saxophonist's hair!"), but whose decision was it in the first place to sign with Sire/Warner?

But now Less Than Jake is back on an indie label and the fast ska-punk record the band promised to produce, oh, about five years ago, is finally on the market. And honestly, GNV FLA is the band's cleanest-sounding record, period; no instruments were buried in the studio, and the horns have returned from their sick days that led to a one-album sabbatical ("Horns Are Overrated"). From the vocally sparse intro, "City of Gainesville," it's apparent that the band got the message fans had been leaving anonymously on message boards for years.

The inclusion of another horn, Reel Big Fish's Scott Klopfenstein on trumpet, adds an element that feels more welcome than I wanted to admit. They could have brought back the baritone sax they lost in 2000 after Borders & Boundaries, but there's really nothing to complain about. The trumpet sounds like it belongs there, at least in 2008, even if it did bring up Catch 22 comparisons with the pre-album release of "Does the Lion City Still Roar?."

Being the `80s-era metalheads that they are, the band also brought back the Cheddar-styled guitar riffing reminiscent of "Help Save the Youth of America from Exploding." There's a borderline-epic (for a ska-pop-punk band) guitar solo and some well-placed harmonics on "The State of Florida," and "Setting Sun" is based around a metallic riff that never would have made it to record under Sire.

Lyrically, Less Than Jake makes no changes, but the lyrics feel more sincere than on their past few records. For me, Borders marked an increase in insincerity and an overreliance on clichés and sub-par wordplay. However, the "I wouldn't have it any other way" that closes out "Golden Age of My Negative Ways" points back to "Gainesville Rock City," and it feels like more of a reference to past material than misplaced repetition.

Aside from a few quirky complaints -- the trombone doesn't resonate like it did in their ska-core days, and the vocal polishing reduces some lyrics, especially Roger's, into indistinguishable shininess -- there is only one unforgivable moment: The fadeout on the last track, "Devil in my DNA." Save that for radio rock singles so Clear Channel DJs have some background music over which to plug the next band; it doesn't belong on a Less than Jake record.

Given the current music scene, and some great comeback releases that just hit the streets (H2O, I'm looking at you!), this is the best record Less Than Jake could have produced at this point in their career. There's no spoon-feeding fans a Losing Streak II, but there's enough of a nod to the band's past efforts on here to help us forget about all but the best of their Sire output. But is it too much to ask for a full US tour with the Losing Streak lineup?

I hope not.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Joebles (September 18, 2008)

I think this album redeemed the band after the last nightmarish release but these guys may need to stop churning out the tunes, as much as I love them. If they do continue, I hope they can get back to their "Losing Streak" ways...

Wrenaldo (August 6, 2008)

What more could be asked of this band at this poin in their careerst? Considering they'll churn out a few more in the future, I'd put down a marker that this is 'a return to form' and future albums should be judged on that.

I'd also add that this has damn catchy elements that makes me come back for extra listens that i wouldn't afford most bands. There's a too much out there right now that is bland. This isn't.

mrdogg45 (July 22, 2008)

I've got real mixed feelings about this album.

One the one hand, its such obvious and blatant pandering. I mean, is this anything more that a big apology?

On the other hand, there are some legit good songs on this album.

This is a band I loved as a kid and still look back fondly on. I want to forgive, but I just don't know...

telegraphrocks (July 5, 2008)

After a few more listens, plus just seeing them live again, I'm gonna go ahead and raise my score from a 7 to an 8.
Before the songs seemed pretty similar, but after repeated listens the stand-out tracks, uh... stood-out. Those, to me, would be "The State Of Florida", "The Space They Can't Touch", "Handshake Meets Pokerface", and "Devil In My DNA".

And now I shall rank:
Losing Streak: 9.5/10
Hello Rockview: 9/10
Anthem: 8.5/10
GNV FLA: 8/10
Borders And Boundaries: 7/10
Pezcore: 6.5/10
In With The Out Crowd: 6/10

misterspike (July 3, 2008)

I dont' get the hate towards "anthem"

I agree. I've loved Anthem since it was released. "Welcome to the New South" and "Ghosts of Me and You" are Pure Awesomness.

randomness (July 2, 2008)

i found this record a little abrasive at first. almost felt like the first song, while good, was a poor choice to start off with. felt more like a middle-of-the-album song. still a good record however

Maccone (July 1, 2008)

Definitely one of my favorite bands, live and studio. I would highly recommend this to any LTJ fan whether an old school "Losing Streak" fan or newer more mainstream "Anthem" guy. It's all around good and shouldn't receive the disappointment that "In With the Out Crowd" got from most people (but not me).

cronophrog (July 1, 2008)

Score's for the 45 included in the vinyl that has Settling Son (demo)

paulrulzdood (June 30, 2008)

I didn't forget "suburban myth", I just referred to it as "track 3" cuz I couldn't freakin remember the name of it at the time, but thanks for refreshing my memory.

Regardless, the only 3 songs on B&B with ska are "suburban myth", "malt liquor tatest better" and "faction". Pretty crazy. Its really why I was disappointed with B&B at first.

So based on the sole fact that GNS FLA has more ska on it than any of their albums since "hello rockview", you got to be pretty stoked on this new album if you're a long-term LTJ fan.

Paul

fattony (June 30, 2008)

paulrulzdood: You forgot "Suburban Myth."

Anyway, I've been on a big LTJ kick since I posted my ranking of the albums, and I'd actually swap the rankings of B&B and Anthem. I think I just got them confused when I wrote that up originally.

paulrulzdood (June 30, 2008)

one perception about LTJ that I've always found interesting is that most people think Anthem was somehow their first album that lacked ska. have you heard borders and boundaries? the thing about Borders and Boundaries that I think a lot of people over look is that while it is loaded with horns, it actually lacks ska for the most part, I'm pretty sure it has less actual ska on it than any of their albums other than "out crowd", which only had 3 ska songs on it.

The only songs with ska in them on B&B are track 3, "malt liquor tates better" and "faction". hard to believe? it is true, B&B almost completely lacked ska, almost every song is punk/pop punk/rock with horns including the two most popular songs from the album "gainsville rock city" and "look what happened".

Paul

mammoth (June 30, 2008)

Yeah, it fucking owns.

baseball (June 30, 2008)

Yeah, agree with a lot of other people. This is a good album for a LTJ fan, which I am. It's what I expected from them at this point in their career. It's nothing new, but it's good.

I'm totally with Paul on Anthem. Although I think it's about equal to Borders, not better.

paulrulzdood (June 30, 2008)

certainly a return to form and improvement from the slick/glossy radio-friendly "in with the out crowd" but I think its foolish to think they'll ever top "rockview" or "losing streak" at this point, but as the reviewer states, this is the best album we can expect from LTJ 15 years deep into their career.

Best tracks are "does the lion city still roar?", "handshake meet pokerface", "a place they can't touch" and "devil in my DNA". There's no real duds though, nothing "skip-worthy" like a good 1/3 of the songs on "out crowd"

stylistically, its more in line with their 90's era, although it doesn't quite sound like any of their prior albums. I hear elements of "pezcore", "rockview" and "borders and boundaries" at various moments on the album, but I would be very hesitant to compare it to "losing streak" or "anthem" and obviously its a 180 from the direction they went on "out crowd".

Hello Rockview 10/10
Losing Streak 10/10
Anthem 8/10
Pezcore 8/10
GNS FLA 7.5/10
Boarders and Boundaries 7/10
In With The Out Crowd 6/10

I dont' get the hate towards "anthem", yea "shes gonna break soon" sucked and they were on a major label, other than that it was awesome. "ghosts of you and me" is one of Rog's best songs ever, the re-make of "look what happened" was far superior to the B&B version, the long intro was removed, the energy increased and Heather on the backing vocals for the outtro rules. "science of selling yourself short" is one of their best songs period and probably the most succesful experiment on their sound (closest they've ever come to writing a reggae song) to date. Then you've got classic sounding jams like "plastic cup politics", the raucus "welcome to the new south" and "short fuse burning" which had way more energy than everything on B&B. I thought 'anthem" was a huge improvement over "boarders and Boundaries" to be honest. The epic ending of "brightest bulb/screws fall out" is their best album closer since "one last cigarette"

Paul

banal242 (June 30, 2008)

Kudos on this great review.

travisdork (June 30, 2008)

anyone catch the spring heeled jack horn part in "golden age of my negative ways" at about 1:09

rupertmurder (June 29, 2008)

What's the big problem with a fade-out ending?

fallingupwards84 (June 29, 2008)

Summon Monsters is a great song

there's way too much Roger on this album though

breakout (June 29, 2008)

you forgot losers kings and things we dont understand

facetofacereunion08 (June 28, 2008)

i like it. definately a good return from IWTOC. the horn lines havent quite been what they used to be though...pete anna or some other influence affection that maybe? anyway:

best to worst:
Hello rockview
losing streak
borders
pez core
b is for b sides (which i don;t consider b-sides)
gnv fla (which i really do like)
IWOC
Anthem (i think anthem blows, dont know why its roger's fav)

johnrambo (June 28, 2008)

i dont hear it.

telegraphrocks (June 28, 2008)

RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE! Ska old-school hello rockview punk rock warner bros. warped tour pez pez pez overrated anthem sellouts rehasher vinnie boom boom boom alright RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!

mcgregor107 (June 28, 2008)

Pretty decent.. definitely worth listening to if you're a fan.

Also, very solid review.

MN_punkmaster-skaman (June 28, 2008)

The score is for the album, not the review. This might be the record of the year so far for me, but we'll see what happens at the end of December.

azpunk73 (June 28, 2008)

Welcome back!

Hey_Asshole (June 28, 2008)

the whole fade out thing is pretty dumb. but, it is not that bad. not for this record anyway.

i mean, listen to Love Songs For The Retarded and you hear way more fade outs that should be allowed on one record. to the point of it almost ruining the flow of the record.

compared to The Queers' abuse of the fade out, one song is totally fine

iruineverything (June 28, 2008)

Haven't heard this album yet, aside from a handul of songs at the show the other night, but I love doing this...

Losing Streak
Hello Rockview
Pezcore
Anthem
In With the Out Crowd
Borders and Boundaries

NewKid (June 28, 2008)

They finally put out a good ska punk record and you still bitch about how you want a different line up. They willl never win.

NewKid (June 28, 2008)

The fade out being unforgiveable and only for radio ready rock bands is a little ridiculous, but otherwise good review.

batattack8 (June 28, 2008)

I think GNV FLA suffered from it being released entirely by the band. There was no one around to point out the complete lack of original ideas. For the most part, there is nothing on this record that the band hasn't done before, and done much better.

Whoever pointed out the No Trigger similarity, I caught it too. Plus, there were some lines bearing bothersome resemblance to Against Me and NMDS.

Problematiclogic (June 28, 2008)

I thought long and hard about what to say about this album, but basically it's really good.

elephantdwarf (June 28, 2008)

maybe now that the album is out, i'll get to stop having to see news about this shit that should have ended, umm... 12 years ago.

punk_rawk_show (June 28, 2008)

Sweet Album, Sweet Band, Sweet Dudes, Sweet back catalogue

loose72 (June 28, 2008)

i like it, but lets see another record from Rehasher Roger...

MrStylson (June 28, 2008)

I like those albums, and would much rather have them than a catalog of 10 albums that sound exactly the same.

Why'd you have to bring Pennywise into this?

MedievalBradness (June 28, 2008)

Definitely a solid album. Nothing spectacular, but a lot of really catchy melodies, some good energy, and cool horn parts.

Also, I think everyone is being extremely harsh about the last few LTJ albums. Anthem is a great rock album. ITWOC is definitely their worst album, but it's by no means a bad record. And I think everyone is giving their label too much credit in terms of the different sounds of those albums. I like those albums, and would much rather have them than a catalog of 10 albums that sound exactly the same.

As long as they're still having fun touring and releasing albums, I see no reason why they should "hang it up."

splendidtune (June 28, 2008)

It's not bad but In With The Out Crowd wasn't to bad either. No B Is For B Sides though.

3pidemiC (June 27, 2008)

Yes, the best record of the year so far!

Great mix of the old and new LTJ sounds.

Best LTJ album in a decade!

Rating...

Losing Streak
Hello Rockview
GNV FLA
Pezcore
Borders and Boundaries
Anthem
In With the Out Crowd

(I don't consider B-side/Rarity albums in the mix)

Hey_Asshole (June 27, 2008)

album of the summer...fuck everything else

telegraphrocks (June 27, 2008)

No real surprises in this album, yet I still like it.

P.S.
While their worst album, 'In With The Out Crowd' is still a good pop record.

conebone69 (June 27, 2008)

"Definitely a return to form and a lesson why big labels are bad."

Uhh..both "Losing Streak" and "Hello Rockview" were on Capitol

As the person said below this records sound good in part becuase of the outright shit they've been releasing.

While It's better than the past few albums but that really isn't saying much. We just have low to zero expectations

I'm surprised they didn't go on a hiatus after In With the Out Crowd

In any event, just hang it up

irishred (June 27, 2008)

I'm sorry, but the record is slow, boring, and predictable. Vinnie needs to become inspired to write something beyond his usual lyrics about failing, trying to get out of town, standing on street corners, walking on sidewalks, blah.... He may also be the least talented drummer in this successful of a band.

This record is better than the last two, but still sounds like boring pseudo-punk rock. I've been going to their shows for about 12 years now, and I can now say their best is over. Sad really.

Piata (June 27, 2008)

Took them long enough. Almost 10 years without a solid LTJ album was killing me.

Definitely a return to form and a lesson why big labels are bad.

misterspike (June 27, 2008)

Great record. To those that think LTJ had gone away, they're most certainly Back.

MrStylson (June 27, 2008)

Good comeback.

Anyone else notice the chorus in Abandon Ship resembles the "look what boredom has created" line from No Trigger's "Attack Of Orion and The Left Arm Sunburn"?

conebone69 (June 27, 2008)

Perhaps I would've like this more if it had followed "Hello Rockview" but the last three albums have killed my interest.

A couple of good songs but nothing to write home about

Hang it up, guys

AlexCanteen (June 27, 2008)

Really strong effort and a nice bounce back from Out Crowd. This album to me takes all the good aspects of the polish Crowd brought to the table and combines with the punchy ska that has been LTJ's bread and butter for the past dozen years.

Pezcore
Losing Streak
Hello Rockview
Borders and Boundaries
B is for B Sides
GNV FLA
Anthem
(insert any amount of albums here)
IWTOC

-Alex

bwisott (June 27, 2008)

Its a good cd

skaboom (June 27, 2008)

This is a great album. After the hit-and-miss Anthem and the miss-and-miss IWTOC, I had all but written them off. Thankfully, I have to eat my words, because they really came through this time.

scientistrock (June 27, 2008)

Good Record.

IanIsSuperRad (June 27, 2008)

Fucking love this record. The flow is incredible. The way the first two tracks lead into each other and especially the the way the 3 three tracks function as one epic finale is awesome. Best flowing LTJ album IMO. I'd rank this as 3rd best behind LS and HR (obviously). The only songs I really don't care for are "Abandon Ship" and "Settling Son" (the latter is actually kind of growing on me). "The Space They Can't Touch" is catchy enough to make up for the both of them though.

defianceohioequalslove (June 27, 2008)

Man, I love this damn cd. So catchy, so fun, I see it as the natural progression from Anthem. My favorites are "Abandon Ship" and "City of Gainesville", and oddly enough my least favorite is "Does the Lion City Still Roar". Completely revitalized my love for LTJ.

It really is up there with the Polar Bear Club disk for cd of the year (though I've yet to listen to the new Gaslight Anthem).

fattony (June 27, 2008)

I'm liking this album more and more with each spin, but its lasting value is questionable. At any rate, if these guys broke up tomorrow, at least they'd be going out on a high note.

And now for everyone's favorite game, rate the LTJ albums:
Losing Streak
Hello Rockview
Borders & Boundaries
Pezcore
GNV FLA
B is for B-Sides
Anthem
Losers, Kings...
Goodbye Blue and White
In With The Out Crowd

i-type-poorly (June 27, 2008)

I really wish I could like this album, but I can't. I just forgot In With The Out Crowd existed, so I don't need a "revival album". I want something new. This really isn't anything all that special, aside from simply not being shit.

GlamBalam (June 27, 2008)

Reggaeton > Ska

dev (June 27, 2008)

Good review, good album. Nothing stellar, but it's enough to keep an old fan still interested.

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