Music Review: M is for mediocre

By By Drew Tabke

By Drew Tabke

Less Than Jake B is for B-sidesSire Records

One out of five stars

Less Than Jake must be getting desperate.

Its latest effort, B is for B-sides, is a collection of 12 tracks, most of which were cut from its previous release, Anthem. Have you no dignity, Less Than Jake? These 12 groundbreaking (read with biting sarcasm) tracks total an amazing 27-minute running time-the album starts, and then it is over.

Imagine: You are sitting at the stoplight on 500 S. and 1300 East and the light is red. At first, the turning lane next to you is empty, but then a grey van pulls up with his left turn signal blinking. You can’t believe your eyes, but there in the back with the doors thrown open are the band members of Less Than Jake rocking out mid-song. The turning lane gets the green arrow, and the van lurches ahead in a cloud of diesel exhaust and turns south. Just like that, they are gone, and you are still sitting in your car, dumbfounded.

This is a pretty good approximation of the album’s duration. But wait-I’m not saying a short album equals a bad album. We all have some six-song LPs that never seem to get old. B-sides, however, does get old. Fast. Almost every song is exclusively inspired by cigarettes smoked or booze drank back when the guys were 19. Many guitar riffs are identical to songs from earlier releases, as are drum fills and trumpet parts. This style of music has a truly youthful spirit, but the problem is that Less Than Jake was young back in 1996 when it released Losers, Kings and Things We Don’t Understand. That was eight years ago.

If the members of Less Than Jake want a lasting legacy, they must do more than just rearrange the formula they have used for so long. Can they do this? Does Less Than Jake have the ability to evolve? Maybe, but not this time-B is for B-sides couldn’t be further from progress.

Less Than Jake is fast becoming that guy who graduated five years ago but still hangs out around the high school buying cigarettes for 17-year-old girls so they will talk to him for a couple of minutes.

Don’t be that guy, Less Than Jake. Don’t be that guy.

Drew Tabke