Let me apologize while I'm still alive

I was holding out for these two albums before I reviewed anything else. Both of these bands have been life changing for me, and perhaps also live-saving.

Less Than Jake's In With the Out Crowd

I have a long history with this band. That is important to consider in reviewing this album, because I'm not sure if I would have liked it quite as much or in the same way if I had not listened to Less Than Jake throughout my adolescence. Hello Rockview will always be one of my favorite albums because it helped me transition from the world of dark adolescent grunge into the happy music-loving gal I am today. When I was 13, I knew nothing about ska, at least not what I know now, but I knew that the sort of poppy third wave "punk with horns" genre made me really happy, and spoke to me about issues that I thought no one understood. Songs like "Al's War," "Last One Out of Liberty City," and "Motto" defined my life as a 13-year-old. Songs like "All My Best Friends are Metalheads" shaped my ability to socially criticize the world around me and to articulate my struggles and values. Corny, I know.

In With the Out Crowd is not as thematically strong as the pre-Anthem era of Less Than Jake albums, but it still has a lot of catchy tunes. If I listened to the radio, and heard a few of these songs there, I would only be able to identify the band by Chris Demakes' voice, but I would otherwise think that it was just another pop punk band. I don't want it to sound like the album is bad. It isn't, it certainly has a few stand-out tunes, but, unlike a few of its predecessors, not every song is spectacular. Aside from that, what happened to the horns??? Nevertheless, I have been listening to it in my car the last few days and it has really grown on me.

Fall Apart

This song is repetitive, sure. But it's pretty damn catchy. It is everything I love about this genre and more. Maybe I like it because its substance is a more mature of the earlier angsty adolescent anthems I grew to love. Or perhaps I like it because its great to sing along with. Either way, the riffs are great and it is absolutely representative of the guilty pleasure I take in this genre: songs about depressing subjects that are so uppity that you can't help but dance and rejoice in their awesomeness.

Rest of My Life

Mid-life crisis? Perhaps. Who cares? I don't. This song is apologetic, slower than the rest and most certainly where I see this band's future. They are great at the faster, poppier songs, but this song is pretty Amazing with a capital A. The analyst in me thinks that I like this song because of its content more than the way it sounds, but it is beautifully melodic. "The Rest of My Life" takes me back to every wrongfully mistaken goodbye I've ever said, dissolves all of the angst and regret, and makes me feel like everything is going to be okay.

P.S. Shock the World

Finally, the horns make a comeback! It is sad, I suppose that this is the last song on the album. I feel like I'm getting a bit repetitive here because the great things about this song, too, are its ability to instill hope in a world of sadness and regret. "P.S. Shock the World" is a great way to end the album, although it is one of the strongest, because it points to new directions. I don't think we'll be seeing too much of Anthem or B is for B-Sides type melodies anymore, but a healthy fusion of new and old. This band has really matured over the last eight years (has it been that long?!?!?) that I've listened to them, and it is great to see that they are still going in interesting and cool directions.

Coming next--The Bouncing Souls' The Gold Album


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