Less Than Jake - TV/EP (Sleep It Off 2010)
Out tomorrow on the band's own Sleep It Off label, TV/EP is a collection of covers by my favorite ska-punk band, Less Than Jake. An EP of covers is nothing new, bands record those all the time (Atreyu is currently working on one of their own). Never content to go with the flow, LTJ took a bit of a different route with this release. All the covers are from TV, including sitcom themes, songs from cartoons, commercial jingles, etc. With some TV static noises and soundbites, listening to the album has the effect of flipping through channels, which according to interviews is what the band was trying to do. Mission accomplished.
Since this is a collection of covers, I can't really comment on the songwriting. There is a good amount of variation in the song choices. Some of the songs are newer, such as the themes to iCarly (a choice I could have lived without) and That 70's Show (which is expanded a bit from the version standardly shown on TV) and one of the songs from those FreeCreditReport.com commercials. There are also quite a few older songs, including commercial jingles (such as McDonald's and Hungry Hungry Hippos) and the themes for Diff'rent Strokes and Laverne and Shirley. The band shows a fondness for animation (hardly surprising, as one of their most loved songs is about Johnny Quest thinking the band is a bunch of sellouts), with the themes from Spongebob Squarepants, Animaniacs, and Scooby-Doo being some of the best songs on the EP.
The songs are well-performed, often outshining the original (at least for a ska-punk fan like me). The variation in content is appreciated (aside from iCarly). The artwork is a nice touch, reminiscent of classic cartoons, especially Looney Tunes. With 16 songs in under 12 minutes, they do achieve their goal of sounding like channel surfing, but I kinda wish they had gone longer. Maybe 40 songs in under 30 minutes. But I guess that would be too complicated with all the licensing fees. Maybe they'll do another one, but for now I'll just look forward to their next full length.
If you want to listen to the album now, go to www.lessthanjake.com/ where there is a video posted with footage corresponding to the songs, as well as some footage of the bands. It was still there at the time of this posting, but it is on Youtube if it gets taken down.