Get the Flash Player to see this player.
According to legend, the material collected together on Greetings & Salutations form Less Than Jake is actually older than most fans might think. True, the album collects the Greetings from Less Than Jake EP (which was originally released in 2011) and the Seasons Greetings from Less Than Jake EP (which was released in 2012) as well as two other songs recorded during the same sessions so fans already know there's a bit of vintage, but the music actually has a lot more history than that. Apparently, these songs were written in 1996 but the band buried them in the name of prosperity for over a decade. Fans and skeptics are welcome to believe what they like in regards to that story – really, the finer points of when the songs were written is irrelevant – as long as the band is willing to hit the road to support them. And they deserve that support because there's no question that what's here is some of the best music Less Than Jake has done since they were riding high on the strength of landmark their albums Hello Rockview and Borders & Boundaries.
Longtime fans will immediately recognize the light and fantastically spry tone of “The New Auld Lang Syne” as being similar to that which Less Than Jake traded in during their all-too-brief heyday (between 1996 and 2001) – before Anthem came along and set a new level of expectation that the band never really had any hope of living up to. It feels great here though, and fans will immediately find their hopes for more goofy, silly pop-punk renewed. Right from this beginning (where singer/bassist Roger Manganelli re-discovers his “yeah-yeah-yeah-nyah-nyah” snottiness again), the light-handed delivery perfectly supports the brash kiss-offs (check out “Do your worst I'll survive another year/ On and on.../ I'll live to tell the story of my last few years” which rings on par with “Another year for me and you/ Another year with nothing to do”) and it almost feels safe to say right away that Less Than Jake are back, but listeners will find themselves holding off on it for fear of jinxing it. It'll get even harder to refrain from screaming “They're back!” though as “Goodbye Mr. Personality” lays into fine ska rhythms as only Less Than Jake can really play them, and impossible when “A Return To Headphones” does it again with awesome, gold-plated self-deprecating images like “a trophy case full of mistakes,” “I've been a castaway and flat on my face” and “Even black clouds have silver lines.”
Listeners will be riding a spectacular high from just those tracks alone – but they'll find that they're not even halfway through the running of G&S yet, at that. The quality of each song leaves nothing to be desired, but listeners will discover to their joy that they just keep getting better as the record progresses. Even more surprisingly, “Flag Holder's Union” and “View From The Middle” – the two previously unreleased tracks on the album – stand out and shine as a couple of striking, standout moments, leading one to wonder not just how the band band managed to have the discipline to leave them untouched in the vault for so long, but how they got left off of the EPs over the last two years as well.
As those questions spiral through listeners' minds, “Oldest Trick In The Book” and “Finer Points Of Forgiveness” throw up a couple more flares of ska-punk fineness before “Life Led Out Loud” rips through with an incendiary bass part up front to close out this experience. The whole thing plays out surprisingly well – especially given that most of this material has (now) been previously released with only a bit of re-sequencing applied – and it's easy to start hoping that there will be some more new music coming after this strong start.
Greetings & Salutations from Less Than Jake will be released on January 8, 2013 by Fat Wreck Chords. Pre-order it here directly from Fat Wreck Chords.