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CD Review: Less Than Jake – In with the Out Crowd

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Mark Saleski, your a faggott. go to hell. NOFX and Less Than Jake kick ass. go f*ck your mom.

Ah, nostalgia. Those kind words came from the first comment received on my 2003 review of Less Than Jake’s Anthem. The funny thing is that the review was positive. Yes, I truly liked the record.

The problem, which seemed to completely unhinge a few readers, was that I had the audacity to question the punk pedigree of not only Less Than Jake, but the entire new breed of punk: Green Day, NOFX, Sum 41, etc. And you know something? Too fricken’ bad! It’s an age thing. I grew up when punk exploded in the late-’70s. Deal with it.

Ahem…

So whether or not In with the Out Crowd is a punk record is irrelevant. It’s got bits of ska (maybe not enough), pop, and enough power chords to annoy the crap out of the older folks (hmmm…maybe there’s more punk here than I thought).

In with the Out Crowd traffics in the usual themes of discontent, boredom, and busted relationships. You know, the stuff that makes life interesting. Musically, there are mountains of guitar, some very muscular bass lines, skankin’ rhythms parts, and a few horns.

What really stands out here are the vocals. These guys can sing. The harmonies during many of the choruses just lift the songs through the roof. It’s the kind of thing that’s universal in rock music. There’s a familiarity (in a good way) that shows up on the very first listen. You’re instantly ready for the second play though.

My only complaint with this album is with the limited use of horns. Wait, that’s too simple a characterization. It’s about dynamics. The songs that employ horns seem to have more in the way of dynamics, giving the tunes more inertia. That gives the nod to songs like “P.S. Shock The World,” “A Still Life Franchise,” and “Don’t Fall Asleep On The Subway.”

Oh, except for “Fall Apart.” I mean, it’s got a guitar solo. Even better, a dual guitar solo! Oh my gawd, Less Than Jake channeling Thin Lizzy. What a world.

Hopefully, this “Is it punk?” thing has been put to rest. What’s more important is, “Is it any good?” Yes, is my answer. I haven’t listened to Anthem for a while now so a comparison would be useless. Just put this CD on, turn it up and leave my mom out of it.

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