Less Than Jake - Losing Streak (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Less Than Jake

Losing Streak (1996)

Capitol Records

Back in 1996, ska was beginning to have its moment. You couldn't flip on a radio (remember radios?!?) without hearing the Mighty Mighty Bosstones or catch a high school coming-of-age flick without hearing one of the many cookie cutter ska bands of the time soundtracking scenes of boys-will-be-boys debauchery. While many of the popular acts of the time have either disbanded or returned to the shadowy corners of the music scene from whence the came, Less Than Jake remain both active and highly popular 20 years later. Much of that is down to the staying power of Losing Streak, the band's major label debut and the record that put Less Than Jake on the national map.

Prior to getting scooped up by Capitol Records and dropping Losing Streak in late '96, the band was already a staple on Florida's underground scene. They dropped their first full length, Pezcore, in the spring of 1995 and embarked on their first national tour that year, giving the rest of the country a taste of the action Floridians were already familiar with. The release of Losing Streak, however, took it to a whole new level.

The album opens with the now-classic intro from Howie J. Reynolds, a name made instantly famous to punks of a certain age thanks to Losing Streak. From there, it's nearly 40 minutes of non-stop fun that, unlike so many ska records of the time, still holds up quite well. Perhaps that's because of the band's obvious punk influences, which steered them clear of the ska tropes that became tiresome when every band went to that well in the late '90s.

While ska's moment in the sun certainly helped Less Than Jake breakthrough, it would be unfair to deny the band the credit it deserves. Losing Streak is chock full of standout tracks that have stood the test of time. "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts" is a quintessential Less Than Jake track that still appears in the band's live set 20 years on, and "Automatic" remains an excellent and energetic album opener. "Dopeman" even got the fancy remix treatment, which, for better or worse, is not a claim most ska bands of the time can make.

The mark of any great band is the ability to remain relevant as the years go on. Considering the fact that Less Than Jake is still headlining big venues to sellout crowds nearly 25 years after forming, they've certainly earned the label of "great band." And what would a great band be without great albums? While opinions may differ as to whether Losing Streak is the band's greatest, it's hard to claim it's anything other than great.