Saturday, January 13, 2018

Less Than Jake Losing Streak (1996) Review

Less Than Jake "Losing Streak" (1996) Re-Release LP Cover
“Losing Streak” is an album by Less Than Jake that came out in 1996 and it was their major label debut. I was a big fan of ska music at the time, and I was looking to get anything ska related. I would pick up the album after getting their debut, “Pezcore” which I believe was on Asian Man Records. I would eventually get to see them play live with the likes of Reel Big Fish, Rancid, and even Mxpx. The band was great live, and still put on a great show if you ever get to see them. As far as this record is concerned, however, it’s a ska punk record that only has about 35 minutes of music on it. It was recorded in Florida, and was produced by Michael Rosen for Capitol Records. The line up for the band included Chris Demakes, Roger Manganelli, Vinnie Fiorello, Buddy Schaub, Jessica Mills, and Derron Nuhfer. They would put together a mix of ska and punk that truly is reminiscent of the time frame that the release was out of, riding a wave of interest in ska and punk, thanks a great deal to the skateboard scene if you ask me.

More Punk Than Ska At Times

I recall going to record stores and asking if they had a ska section. Most of them said, no, and I would be disappointed because I couldn’t find more records from bands that I loved. They would lump Ska and Punk together, and sometimes they would just have an alternative section. I would eventually remedy this by writing a lot of reviews for record stores and asking them to cater to ska fans, and more. Eventually they did, and now, well, ska isn’t that big a genre, but when I was younger, I was all about it. I’m still in love with the sounds of ska and punk, but for the sake of this review, I will stick to Less Than Jake’s fusion of both. For the record, “Losing Streak”, they focused more on punk at times, with distorted single guitar sounds, and bass guitar that was floating around and walking through a variety of different steps. While the horn section was in place, it was more focused on the three chord progression that you would expect from punk. A punk-core sound would be created here, and though there were horns, it wasn’t as big as say, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones or Five Iron Frenzy’s focus on horns.

Sing Along With Less Than Jake

For fans of songs that you can sing along with, you’ll love how the band was able to create a lot of different choruses that were just that, sing along style. You could do karaoke to a lot of the songs that they put together on this record. They would eventually release the record with a DVD live performance of the whole album, straight forward. Some of the best tracks that came out on this record include “Automatic, “Sugar In Your Gas Tank”, “Shindo”, “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts”, “Never Going Back To New Jersey”, “How’s My Driving, Doug Hastings?”, “Just Like Frank”, “Dopeman”, and “Jen Doesn’t Like Me Anymore”, all of which are some of my favorite ska and punk tracks, not just Less Than Jake Tracks.

Like Riding A Bike

There are some records that don’t seem to age. They are timeless, they are well made, and recorded with precision. That’s what you get with “Losing Streak”. It’s a record that speaks to the time it was released, but it works so well, even after all of these years. The ethos tied to the lyrics, the horn section, the punk rock elements, and so much more just comes together to form a record that is well worth your time as a whole. When you put this record on, you’ll end up listening to the whole thing, not just a few tracks here and there, that’s for sure. I love the record as a whole, that’s for certain.

I give Less Than Jake “Losing Streak” a 4 out of 5.

With so much praise, you’d think that I would’ve given “Losing Streak” a 5 out of 5. Well, I can’t, as it’s not that long of a record. Not only that, there are a few songs that seem out of place, and are re-recorded from their album, “Pezcore”. That isn’t a bad thing, but it brings them down just one peg if you ask me. Less Than Jake is still going strong, and this record was re-released with a live performance CD and DVD of the whole record, which is fun to watch. I’ve seen them live, and can say that the songs that are on this record hold up well live, and heck, it’s a great example of ska and punk mixed together.

You can purchase Less Than Jake “Losing Streak” by clicking here, and picking up the re-release with DVD and live performances. It’s a great disc, and stands the test of time, if you’re a fan of ska and punk of course.

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