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Less Than Jake

GNV FLA

Sleep It Off

Sixteen years spent jumping from one record label to the next have led Gainesville, Florida's Less Than Jake to the inevitable: their own record label, and with it, creative freedom. The ska punk pioneers' first album of new material on their aptly named Sleep It Off Records is one that not only brings them back musically to their roots, but geographically celebrates those roots that were planted in the fine little college town of GNV FLA.

Less Than Jake was a band I spent a lot of stereo time with in the mid-'90s. Having grown up in Central Florida I was lucky enough to catch some very, very early shows of the band. Back in those days there was a light-hearted spirit and humor in songs like "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts," "Where in the Hell is Mike Sinkovich?," and "Shotgun." Every three-minute burst sounded like an anthem for youth, carefree afternoons, and nights on the town.

Over the years, the band's sound "matured," which didn't always make for the most interesting music. They were still selling out shows, doing the Warped Tour main stages, and winning over legions of new fans, but many fans had lost interest somewhere around the time of 1998's Hello Rockview... or was that just me?

GNV FLA is a release to satisfy every generation of Less Than Jake fans. Those in search of horn-heavy, bouncy grooves will find it in the form of "City of Gainesville," and "Golden Age of My Negative Ways." If it's the more NOFX side of LTJ's personality you're craving, it's "The State of Florida," and "Devil in my DNA" that you'll love. The younger fans may be looking for the poppier side of the band's sound; "This One's Gonna Leave a Bruise" will become a favorite.

The songs that best sum up the vast influences that give Less Than Jake its signature sound are "Does the Lion Still Roar?," and "The Space They Can't Touch." It is these songs that nail this album as a success worthy of comparison to their earliest works.

Less Than Jake: www.lessthanjake.com