December 8, 2020 Less Than Jake – Silver Linings (Album Review)
Heroes of the Ska-Punk scene for nearly 30 years, Less Than Jake are back in action on their new album, Silver Linings, set for release on Friday, December 11, 2020 via Pure Noise Records.
As one of the most enduring, hardest working bands in the Ska-Punk scene, Less Than Jake have been writing music, playing to sweaty sold out crowds, and dropping album after album all on their terms since 1992. Ever since the success of 1996’s Losing Streak, Less Than Jake have built an amazing collection of exciting and meaningful Ska-Punk tunes from “Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts” to “History of a Boring Town” to “Look What Happened” and so much more. A loyal following, fans all over the world have packed clubs and festivals fiending to mosh, crowd surf, and sing along to every Less Than Jake Performance.
Today, the core members of Less Than Jake are lead by dueling vocalists, Guitarist Chris DeMakes and Bassist Roger Lima. Alongside these two whimsical personalities, Trombonist Buddy Schaub and Saxophonist Peter “JR” Wasilewski have been in Less Than Jake forever while veteran Punk Drummer, and former Less Than Jake Tour Manager, Matt Yonker joined up in 2018. Since releasing their last full length album, 2013’s See The Light, Less Than Jake have spent much of their time recording and touring.
A tight act to follow, DeMakes, Lima, and Wasilewski penned every lyric to what would become Less Than Jake’s ninth studio album, Silver Linings. To give a clearer perspective of what Silver Linings means to Less Than Jake, Wasilewski explains: “We allowed ourselves to be vulnerable. In the past, previous records’ lyrics were about leaving a specific place or time. This is more about the departures in our personal lives: family, friends, relationships. We’ve never really explored that side. With this record, we tried to pull back that curtain. We’re showing some fragility in a time when people seem so hardened. We’re not looking for silver linings. The record is about appreciating them. Nobody appreciates them until maybe it’s too late or maybe it’s after the fact.”
Taking all this to heart, Less Than Jake kick off Silver Linings with the skanking fun on “The High Cost of Low Living.” Jovial horns and crunchy guitar compliment the way DeMakes portrays the essence behind every story he tells. Next up, “Lie To Me” is the first track to feature Lima on vocals as the track reaches for one last touch. As we move along, “Anytime and Anywhere” offers more vibrant horns while a song like “Dear Me” is self-poetic. A ‘how to’ guide on fixing yourself, “Monkey Wrench Myself” is filled with Punk guitar and advice on making those self repairs. Later on, Less Than Jake pay tribute to legendary Producer/Drummer Bill Stevenson of the Descendants on “Bill.” Closing out Silver Linings, Less Than Jake seem to explore escaping the redundancy of modern life via the track “So Much Less.”
In a year when we need more cheer and smiling sounds to go along with the game of life, Less Than Jake make their return on Silver Linings. After all these years, Less Than Jake are an ever evolving act who bring highlights from various points in their catalog onto Silver Linings. Legends in their own right, when you look back at the Ska-Punk scene of the last 25 years, Less Than Jake are only one of a handful of bands that can be considered the best of the best. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock awards Silver Linings 3 out of 5 stars.