Less Than Jake - Losing Streak
Release Date: November 12th, 1996
Record Label: Capitol Records
I won't go into some big introduction to start this one off, because frankly, if there's a ska listener out there who doesn't have their hands on this sucker already, let me be the first to say, you don't know what you're missing. Losing Streak is the first major label effort from Gainesville's finest, Less Than Jake. On first listen, some may find the records production to be a little sketchy, but the albums overall content more than makes up for that.
"Automatic" starts off the album, with a nice little voice clip to remind you of who you're listening to. It's a fast, punchy, upbeat song that mixes the best of both worlds. Crunchy guitar riffs, blazing horn lines, raw, energetic vocals, and upbeats for the dancing crowd. Following Automatic comes "Happyman", which begins with an anthemic, almost gladiator type horn line, and doesn't waste any time in showing what these guys do best. Ska verses and punk choruses, which I assure you'll come across more than once on this record. "9th at Pine", the albums third track, once again kicks off with another impressive horn melody, is an upbeat tune with an extremely memorable chorus. 9th at Pine is the type of song where you want to throw your arms around your friends and sing until your voice is shot. Next comes "Sugar In Your Gas Tank", and in my opinion what is undoubtedly one of the records most notable, sing-a-long efforts. Similiar to "9th at Pine", this is another fan favourite with words you'll find yourself repeating over and over until your head hurts. Skipping ahead to the records seventh track, we reach "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts", the first Less Than Jake song I ever heard. To sum it up: it's fast, it's raw, it's the perfect addition to any summer mixtape, and it's all jam packed into a tribute to a Gainesville 'punk' with the idea in his mind that Less Than Jake we're ruining punk music. I'd personally like to thank that guy myself for inspiring the band to pump out such an awesome song. "Never Going Back To New Jersey" begins with a clip from an old-school song that I know i've heard somewhere else before, leading perfectly into what some may find as their favourite track on the album. Each member of the band combines an infectious rhythm to make up this song, and I dare you to disagree. "How's My Driving, Doug Hastings?" comes in as track ten, and basically follows in the same fashion as every other song i've described off the record. Nearing the end, Less Than Jake display their punk side in "Just Like Frank", which is basically the soundtrack to a moshpit. If you need an example: when I saw the guys play back in April, I was elbowed in the head four times before the first chorus. Pretty impressive, isn't it? "Lockdown" brings the record to a close and illustrates just how talented their horn section actually is, with one of the most impressive, horn-filled bridges my ears have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
Overall, this is ska-punk at it's finest. Take it or leave it. Although Losing Streak clocks in at just over half an hour, you couldn't ask for a cd with more sing-a-longs, upbeats, and fast-paced melodies than it provides. This is Less Than Jake, and I love what they do. You decide for yourself, but you know which way I'm leaning on this one.