It seems as if all bands who experience popularity during their career do it one of two ways. Of course, bands can always rely on sticking to trends, and push out an album hoping that it sticks on with crowds so long as the fad lasts. On the other hand, some bands craft a signature sound, write meaningful and original songs, and slowly but surely, gain a larger fan base and eventually start playing to bigger crowds and receiving more notoriety. Gainesville, Florida’s Less Than Jake is a great example of the latter category. In the two decades since their formation, the quintet has released a string of very solid ska-punk albums and have become that band that old punk dudes (the ones with beards, shin tattoos and who drink exclusively PBR) and younger kids can come together and mutually love. Besides, is there really anyone out there who doesn’t like The Jakes?
Fast forward to 2012. The band’s peak popularity is a few years behind them, and the band has matured into old punk dudes themselves. And with age comes a fork in the road. Do you write music to stay relevant, or do you write music to stay rad? Luckily for fans, Less Than Jake has opted to stay rad, and their newest EP, Season’s Greetings From Less Than Jake, is a testament to that. Recorded in bassist Roger Manganelli’s basement, Season’s Greetings is the companion, or as the band calls it, the “salt” to their 2011 EP, Greetings From Less Than Jake’s pepper. Released in the wee months of 2012, listeners should not be fooled: this is not a “winter album”. Present is the band’s signature jumpy power chords and pickitup-pickitup ska rhythms over summery horns. This in an album to skateboard to. Or to walk around and drink sodas to.
Seasons Greetings is a fun record at heart. It doesn’t match up to past classics like Losing Steak or Anthem, but it doesn’t seem like that was the point of the record anyways. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, or anything that will propel the band into the spotlight. What Less Than Jake did here, was do what they know best and write five fun songs that fit neatly into their catalogue. Leadoff track “The New Auld Lang Syne” edges out the four other tracks as the most memorable song. It’s starts out with a rolling pop punk groove with upbeat horns which almost say “this is a fun song, start smiling, nerd”. It then turns into a ska section, followed by an ever-so-catchy chorus. After all, isn’t that the LTJ blueprint?
The next four songs follow more or less the same pattern, and at times are hardly distinguishable. And that’s not a necessarily bad thing, considering how this band’s weaker material is better than most band’s A-list material. Season’s Greetings From Less Than Jake won’t garner the fan a larger fanbase, or be remembered as a classic Less Than Jake record, but it is what it is: it’s a fun record, fans will love it, kids will dig it, and it’ll serve as pretty sweet filler on anyone’s “top 100 Less Than Jake songs” playlist (because everyone has one… right?).