GNV FLA review by Less Than Jake

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  • Released: Jun 24, 2008
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (33 votes)
Less Than Jake: GNV FLA
3

Sound — 8
With their seventh studio album, Less Than Jake boldly take the leap into musical independence by releasing GNV FLA on their own Sleep It Off Records. Ditching a major label is a big move for most bands, and is normally seen as a statement that the band has decided to reach back to their roots to prove to fans that they are still the same band they were all those years ago. It is safe to say that most 'Pez-heads' were disappointed with 2006's In With The Out Crowd. It looked to many as if Less Than Jake were 'selling out', trying their hands at the poppy, over produced sound attained by the majority of mainstream bands. The real question now is did the band create GNV FLA in the same vein as In With The Out Crowd to please their new followers, or did they record an album in the style of Hello Rockview for their old school fans? The answer is both. GNV FLA is laden with punkier guitars (as demonstrated on 'Settling Son'), high spirited horns ('Golden Age of My Negative Ways'), powerful drumming ('This One's Gonna Leave a Bruise'), and quick flowing bass lines ('Abandon Ship'). In that respect, instrumentally Less Than Jake have delivered for their older fans. However, lyrically and vocally, Chris Demakes and Roger Manganelli continue on from where they left off with In With The Out Crowd. This way they can please the newer fans as well as those from the Hello Rockview era. The album kicks off to the pleasantly bouncy tune of 'City of Gainesville', a re-assuring track based around a light spring-loaded ska riff. The track ends and immediately launches into one of the most energetic and promising songs on the album, 'The State of Florida'. So smooth is the changeover between the two songs, you'd be forgiven to think that they were one. Other standout tracks include 'Abandon Ship' and 'The Space They Can't Touch', the latter of which is sure to become a fan favorite due to it's strong punchy opening, vibrant horns, and upbeat ska guitars, not to mention the sing-along chorus. 'Conviction Notice' is another one to watch as it's a strong, upbeat ska song from start to finish.

Lyrics — 8
The singing on GNV FLA is comparably more energetic and heartfelt than the bands previous offering. When I say 'heartfelt' I don't mean the kind of whiny singing complemented with black tears most pop-punk or emo bands tend to exhibit, I mean the raw, powerful singing filled with strength and power. Each song on GNV FLA is sung with conviction; so much so that you wouldn't be surprised if Chris and Roger lost their vocals after the recordings (hear 'The State of Florida' and 'Golden Age of My Negative Ways'). Lyrically the album is a joy to listen to. It is not often that a drummer takes majority control over the lyric writing, but as GNV FLA and previous LTJ records show, Vinnie Fiorello is a master at it. As the album is a tribute to the bands hometown of Gainesville, Florida (hence the naming of GNV FLA), a large portion of the lyrics is about past memories and experiences of growing up there. This is best shown on opening track 'City of Gainesville': We have our master plan bottled and canned living in the 352; steps 1 and 2 walk home drunk wake up confused with a stranger next to you; the copied costumes and conversation seem to be totally making this into a strip mall kind of town; I use my credit card to buy alcohol student loan spent at the mall and I; I may be going broke but I'm never broken down.

Overall Impression — 9
There is hardly a bad song on GNV FLA. The whole album flows well from start to finish with a quick, determined, yet party-fueled pace. Very much a live album, GNV FLA sees Less Than Jake return to form with an exuberant and colorful album that proves they are still a band with energy, still a band who can write great songs, and still a band worth caring about. Best of all, you can tell that they are having fun.

32 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jay Awesome
    I'm very happy about the new album. It sounds more like Anthem or B Is for B-Sides than the way they were going with In With the Out Crowd, which was still alright, but I figure the major label pushed them in a certain direction...
    davegrohls_tash
    i absolutely love this album!!! might not be as 'ska' as their first couple albums but so what! this is easily on par with anthem, just a shame the whole ska/punk thing imploded and everyone died their hair black and got stupid fringes. this album would be absolutely killer if they still managed to get the kind of media coverage they did a fair few years back
    n00barmy
    IMHO, this is their best album since Losing Streak. I find myself listening to GNV FLA and Losing Streak the most often. I just cannot listen to Devil In My DNA without playing The Life Of The Party Has Left The Building beforehand. I wish they would play those songs together live.
    fmfualex
    shnurs : are ska players as technically skilled as jazz players? i don't want a generalisation but I just thought there might be a connection I'm at LIPA. (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) and i'm favourably a ska guitarist. Jazz players are generally among the best guitarists for theory and soloing knowledge. Ska guitar is just a technique with muted strings and offbeat strums, quite hard to get the hang of, but not tremendously difficult though. Obviously it depends on the guitarist and their actual ability, but on the whole Jazz guitarists would be better than ska players.
    Minority27
    The lyrics are not about growing up in Gainesville, man. Vinnie grew up in new jersey, and he went to college in Gainesville.
    LTJskaRBF
    This album and band kicks ass! To guy that said some ska guitar players can do amazing things: "Aaron Barrett...thats all...
    Idiot_Son
    Zell182 wrote: Jake is English slang for cool apparantly so your little joke doesn't really make sense
    "Jake" is a term from the roaring 20's, ie "Everythings Jake", meaning everythings good, or everythings cool. Less Than Jake would mean the opposite.
    mjones1992
    rebelmidget wrote: i rather enjoy anthem and i think fans who don't are just whiney it's lacking in horns but other than that it's one of their best
    I agree. I love Anthem :-D (In with the out crowd kinda sucked tho.)
    tasty licks
    GNV FLA? Thats pretty sweet. They named the album after Gainesville, FL where they formed. The picture on the cover is of University Ave. Seeing them live there was really something else. Theres nothing quite like being in the pit for "Gainesville Rock City" with a few thousand other UF students. Go Gators
    concept:one
    they're called less than jake cos they used to have a dog called jake; theyd feed him leftovers but cos hed get everyones leftovers hed get more than anyone else.
    rebelmidget
    skaguitarist53 wrote: Sid McCallThe new album has totally made up for that abomination that was In with the Out Crowd. well than hopefully the owe us yet another spectacular album for Anthem?
    i rather enjoy anthem and i think fans who don't are just whiney it's lacking in horns but other than that it's one of their best
    lounge act
    I saw them live and got this autographed (very nice people those punk rockers fellows are) but left it at a friend's house and still haven't got it back. Eagerly awaiting it though!
    dannyisokay
    Album is really not as good as anything pre-Borders and Boundaries. Also, the reviewer seemed to use Hello Rockview as the "classic" LTJ style/album, but the "true" LTJ fans typically listen more to Pezcore/Losing Streak.
    afratmdk
    shnurs wrote: are ska players as technically skilled as jazz players? i don't want a generalisation but I just thought there might be a connection
    ska bassists and horn players can probably interchangeable play jazz and ska (i'm a ska bassist and i can). but it really depends on the guitarist. many ska guitarists can't do shit, but alot can do some really cool stuff
    Zell182
    Jake is English slang for cool apparantly so your little joke doesn't really make sense
    skaguitarist53
    Sid McCall The new album has totally made up for that abomination that was In with the Out Crowd.
    well than hopefully the owe us yet another spectacular album for Anthem?
    Sid McCall
    castew wrote: jake dosent mean cool here, not that i've heard anyway. less than jake are named so because one of the band members (i believe it was vinnie) used to mean less to his parents that the dog did. the dogs name was jake so he felt like he was less than jake.
    This is correct. Anyway, I saw them two days ago and it was incredible. The new album has totally made up for that abomination that was In with the Out Crowd.
    pacmandemon
    I bought this Album the other day actually.. Its Really Awsome and havnt stopped playing it Tbh! LOVE IT!
    rich420
    stokesey wrote: ...I'm English and I've never heard 'Jake' as slang for cool...
    yeah nor have I
    petey gunnz
    ive seen em live 4 times over the years the most recent being about a month ago and let me tell you, they still got amazing enegery at there shows, goldfinger too
    castew
    jake dosent mean cool here, not that i've heard anyway. less than jake are named so because one of the band members (i believe it was vinnie) used to mean less to his parents that the dog did. the dogs name was jake so he felt like he was less than jake.
    boomtank
    this album rocks got it with the release, awesome album.. they really went back to their roots, nor the warner bros. crap anymore WHOOOHOOOO
    mulletboy14
    shnurs wrote: are ska players as technically skilled as jazz players? i don't want a generalisation but I just thought there might be a connection
    For guitarists? *Generally* I don't think so, but you are right that they are related.
    shnurs
    are ska players as technically skilled as jazz players? i don't want a generalisation but I just thought there might be a connection