Hi 94 / Lo 76
|Volume 68, Issue 144,
Monday, June 2, 2003
Arts & Entertainment
LTJ's new 'Anthem' may resurrect skank
By Ray Hafner
Who remembers how to skank?
That crazy sort of dance with legs flailing and arms sailing where kids
with green hair, spikes and mohawks found their inner John Travolta peaked
during the mid-1990s when the ska craze reached its apex.
Less Than Jake does it again on its new album Anthem by fusing the fury of angry punk with a joyous horn section.
Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers
Bands like Save Ferris and The Hippos each turned out sugar-coated ditties laced with trombone and sax sounds that proved punks could smile sometimes. Since then those bands have faded leaving only memories ("Good times, good times") while a harder edge to punk music has come to dominate the scene.
Unaffected by these swings in the wiles of youth has been Less Than Jake, fusing the fury of angry punk with joyous toots from the horn section. The Gainesville, Fla., rockers are back with their latest album, Anthem, and their loyal core of fans wonit be disappointed, although they may find it lacking in energy in some places and originality in others.
The albumis first single, "Sheis Gonna Break Soon," is emblematic of the problem. The repetitive chorus of "Sheis gonna break soon, gonna break soon, sheis gonna break" begins to feel tedious after just a minute into the song.
The song also relegates the horns to the way, way background, making one wonder if the band has sold out and will just continue in the pop-punk vein of singing about girls all the time.
Fortunately, the staid three chords, no horns and lines about girls isnit used much. The last thing the scene needs is another Sum 41.
The band finds its best sound and energy on songs like "Plastic Cup Politics," a song about hooking up and making the move while completely trashed.
"Hello Mr. Six Pack of confidence/ Iim glad to see youive already met/ Ms. Twelve ounces of loneliness/ And Mr. Plastic cup politics/ I see youire under the influence/ Of warm beer and the comfort of all your friends," the song goes. This sort of introspective party music about relating to your friends and fitting in is what made the band in the first place, and itis good to see it can still make a kid skank.
Other sure hits are "Look What Happened" and the slower, much more ska-like "The Science of Selling Yourself Short."
Since in these days of Kazaa (now the most popular program on the Internet) music isnit enough to sell a CD, the bandis gimmick here (and itis a good one) is to include a piece of original artwork with each of the songs from some of the most innovative artists working today. The enhanced CD also includes the video for "Sheis Gonna Break Soon."
The best part of LTJ has always been its live shows, (anyone whois ever run around a soundboard knows this). This albumis worth a listen if you want to prepare for this summeris Warped Tour.
Less Than Jake
The verdict: Be sure to check out LTJ on the Warped Touris main stage this summer, July 20. Have your running shoes ready.
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