Less Than Jake - B Is For B-Sides (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Less Than Jake

B Is For B-Sides (2004)


What other band on Earth could create an entire album of b-sides from a single album and still have a solid disc of music? None besides Less Than Jake come to mind. This collection is a great stopgap between Anthem and their next album, giving the old fans a taste of a less sweet side of the band than has been shown in the past year.

If you've listened to LTJ then you know what's contained on here: songs about growing up, anthems about leaving, and laments about lost friends. This collection treads no new lyrical ground, but fixes some of (what I saw as) Anthem's problems. Pro-tools auto-tune function got nowhere near these mixes, or at least not that you can tell. Roger's voice sounds just nasally enough, but not too high pitched, Chris sounds angry, and the drums sound great, albeit slightly low in the mix. A lot of the songs on here (Bridge and Tunnel Authority, Goodbye in Gasoline, National Anthem, a few others) could have easily been used to beef Anthem up a bit. In fact, Chris's voice sounds incredible on Bridge and Tunnel Authority, without sounding like it took ten takes to get it perfect. My biggest complaint, that being the oddly mixed (and/or absent) horns, about Anthem remains half broken, half fixed on this disc. The horns are definitely more prominent and sound more natural, but they're still a bit muddy in the bottom of the mix. A bit of a disappointment, but they pack a lot more punch than on Anthem.

It's got to be pretty obvious that Anthem wasn't my favorite Less Than Jake release. But it wasn't my least favorite, but it was down there. There have been a few criticisms leveled at it, mine being the sugary sweet production and the seeming down-mixing of the horns into the background. When this B Is For B-Sides was announced and I heard the first two tracks, my spirits soared, because those two tracks sounded like everything that Anthem wasn't. The more (oddly) more anthemic song writing, the harder grittier mix, and a sense of urgency. Now, it's obvious that these feelings were reactionary, but they still hold true to some extent. This album isn't everything that Anthem wasn't, but it's a great collection of songs that I'm glad Vinnie and the crew let see the light of day.

I grabbed this from iTunes for 7.99, which was a killer price. I have no clue how much it is in stores, but it's more than worth your money, and shouldn't be passed over as just another B-Sides collection.