In With The Out Crowd review by Less Than Jake

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  • Released: May 23, 2006
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 6.5 (57 votes)
Less Than Jake: In With The Out Crowd

Sound — 7
It's hard not to look back fondly to the good old days, when the sound of vibrant horn section of a ska band penetrated through your radio speakers and it was impossible not to bob with every emphasis of the guitar's up-beat. So when the news arrived that Less Than Jake was releasing a new album, rediscovering the in music seemed a possibility. But unfortunately, Less Than Jake's latest release In With the Out Crowd strays too far from its ska roots, while not adding much of a fresh take on any music genre. The band, consisting of Chris Demakes on vocals/guitars, bassist Roger Manganelli, Buddy Schaub on trombone, Vinnie Fiorello on drums, and sax man Peter Wasilewski, feels too much like your run-of-the-mill pop-punk band this time around. Only a few of the songs take advantage of the powerhouse horn section, while the ones that stand without a sax or trumpet lack much distinction. The second track Still Life Franchise first feels like old-school ska, but this feeling is short-lived. Most of the songs after Still Life Franchise only use the horns here and there, which would not be a bad thing if the song had a unique chorus, verse, or well, maybe even an infectious bridge. The first single off the CD, Overrated, has the band's trademark harmonies and Demakes' energetic delivery, which are always a nice touch that defines Less Than Jakes' music. But the song relies on a few chords and a repetitive chorus as its main musical attributes. The kids of today will likely enjoy the cynical attitude projected in the tune, but for the listeners who seek a little bit more, the song probably won't satisfy. For most of the album, songs seemed disjointed, with half of the song appearing as ska and the other half as your usual pop-punk song. But the band arranges a nice meeting of straightforward rock and horn grooves in Fall Asleep On The Subway, probably the best song on the CD. There are so many unique elements to the song that after only one listen, you are ready to start humming along. It's not your traditional ska, but the band successfully found a way to accentuate the song with the horn section.

Lyrics — 8
An essential part of the Less Than Jake's allure is the ability the band has to relate to young audiences. While the lyrics may not click with everyone, the band definitely deserves credit for maintaining the ability to convey words that will likely appeal to Warped Tour audiences. The band's first single is chock-full of lyrics of specific ideas that will likely hit a chord with more than a few people. In Overrated Demakes sings, I think sex is overrated; So is always getting wasted; Designer drugs and dead-end jobs; And classic rock is so outdated. While plenty of teenagers might find the lyrics appealing, the cynicism might just have the 30-somethings nodding their heads as well. The band shows its more sensitive side in a song like Mostly Memories. I tried to memorize dates and times of old accidents and the failed attempts now; still afraid of those mistakes I've made. Some may say that this is a stab at emo, but it is a nice contrast to a song like Overrated.

Overall Impression — 7
Less Than Jake do offer a couple of memorable tunes on Out With the In Crowd, but the majority of the bunch does not really inspire a second listening. If the band packed the record with inspired, melodic, and horn-laced songs like Fall Asleep On The Subway and Let Her Go, it would be a winner through and through. But the pluses don't come often enough this time around. The ska element of the band is indeed slowly disappearing, and Less Than Jake seems to not know if they want to leave that title behind or not. The horns still add such an impressive element to the songs that they should be used more not less. The band proves on a few tracks they can create a rocking horn section without the ska, so let's hope the next CD shows off that perfect hybrid on every track.

25 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Not half bad. I enjoyed this album. Like one person said, in a world of emo music this was something different and I really enjoyed it.
    I'm sorry...anyone who hates this album can't appreciate ****ing good songwriting...I was disappointed with lack of horns etc...but the more I listened to the songs, the better they became...I can relate to everything on this album, and in my opinion, an album on which EVERY SINGLE SONG means something to you, is hard to find....LTJ are some of the best songwriters ever
    Jimbo/Slash wrote: At first the album pissed me off - I wanted another Losing Streak or Hello Rockview. Heck, even another Anthem would do. But once I accepted this was none of those albums and that they are a bunch of sell outs, I actually started enjoying this album. Especially 'Landmined and Landslides'.
    This comment FTW. Believe me, when I bought this album and listened to it the first few times I actually ripped my LTJ poster off of my wall. That's how angry I was that LTJ have basically made a full transition to pop-punk. Yet, having finally gotten over the fact that they're no longer a ska band, I've come to appreciate that Vinnie still writes awesome lyrics and Chris and Roger still play with passion. "Let her go" sounds like it could easily fit on an earlier LTJ album, "Fall Apart" and "Don't fall asleep on the subway" sound very much like Anthem songs(subway, as rightly indicated by the UG team, being the standout song of the album) and I dare you to listen to "Overrated" and "Landmines and Landslides" and NOT sing along and want to bounce around like a spazz. It's actually a nice little album. Nothing ground-breaking, but a good listen. The only thing that still irks me is that I heard half of the album would be two-tone ska era influenced which appears to be BS. Still, LTJ still rule. Just see them live if you don't believe me. =)
    Less Than Jake at one point in time was my favorite band. They were incredible back in the day. Their music was flat out awesome. A booming horn line, unique vocals, meaningful(but not whiny) lyrics and bitchin skanky guitar. They introduced me to the sound of ska and the difference between traditional and true punk-oriented bands. They were just cool. But these last two albums have just made me lose faith in music altogether. If a band as unique as less than jake begins to sound like run of the mill pop-punk whats next? Ive watched AFI become MTV's new emo band over the last 5 or so years. I remember when they were genuine punk rock. Im scared because Less Than Jake are losing thier roots as well and ive been fighting the fact that they are now pop punk and may soon be full blown emo. I hope the moneys good guys....because the music isnt anymore. RIP Less Than Jake.
    ltj used to be one of the coolest ska bands ever, and now when other bands in the genre lose their roots, they can't hold to their own!? it's not like i'm expecting the same things from their old album, but damn... they have a hornline, they should use it! i mean, it pissed me off when the "she's gonna break soon" vid didn't have the horns in it, yet buddy was there with his bone... and now they try to sell an album without any of their trademarks anythings? total WTF!?
    I was disappointed. This album is more pop-rock than anything. Anthem is where it all went down-hill. B Is For B-Sides was better than Anthem by a long-shot, and the songs on that album were considered the tracks not good enough for Anthem. They have progressed alright, but they can kiss ska goodbye. As far as if i like the album, i'd give it a 6 out of 10 because it has a few catchy tunes on it
    Vos wrote: I only like the cd by them with the Science of Selling Life short or whatever is called on it.
    The song is called The Science Of Selling Yourself Short and the album would be Anthem. That's my favorite of there's too, although I've liked everything they've done so far. I have not yet heard the new cd. But one of the more recent concerts I have been to was an LTJ show and I've got to say it was one of my favorite...and I've been to A LOT of shows. One of the best live bands of today. Just throwing that out there.
    I only like the cd by them with the Science of Selling Life short or whatever is called on it.
    I saw LTJ at the london astoria and they were great! this disk IS good and has some great song writing in it and really should be given a better rating than 8.2.
    i havent heard this cd yet but im dissapointed with this band...stardom took them over..come on they started to tour with Snoop Dog..evewrysince the cd before this i no longer consider them ska/
    This band have the greatest surnames ever =P I for one, enjoyed the album. It may not be an amazing release that will break musical boundries...but is good, fun listen
    you can defend this album any wany you still sucks. I loved the other LTJ albums, each for a different reason, but this crap? no. This sounds like a bad pop ripoff of New Found Glory. The only good song is Rest of my life which was written by Mark Hoppus! go figure!
    If you want to compare this album to LTJ's earlier stuff, then go ahead, waste your time. Vinnie has always said that LTJ are a progressive band, they will always move on, try new material, new apporaches and make different music. I love Losing Steak, i love anthem, i love Losers Kings and Things We Don't understand and I love In With the Out Crowd. I can't understand people who complain that LTJ aren't producing another Hello Rockview, because if they understood LTJ then they would understand why they aren't producing another Hello Rockview. Please, stop slating LTJ because of what they used to be [and aren't now] but enjoy them because they have progressed and they keep producing fantastic music.
    Less Than Jake dominate. This album is amazing, it's poppy, yeah, but it still retains their signature sound.
    Im sorry but ltj ****ing kick ass! i saw them at the met in leeds and it was awesome. They played stuff on the new album, i can remember how it went but all i remember was it was a ****ing awesome gig and i was sober!
    its not that bad an album and stands out because not many bands have a sound such as this album shows (pretty much only the offspring have as good a sound that is similar) its an album that is good listen but after a few runs may get boring but that hasn't yet happened so enjoying it
    the rest of my life is a really good song but i dont like the rest of the album that much. glad to see them moving in different directions and exploring what they can do. as long as they still kick ass live (and they do) i will still listen to them
    what is people's obsession with 'sellouts' who cares?? what difference does it actually make? they're still an awesome band and 'the rest of my life' is one of their best songs to date