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"A Return To Headphones"
February 16, 2012 - Sleep It Off
Ignore the title—outside of the cover art and title of the first song, "The New Auld Lang Syne," this new EP from Less Than Jake doesn't really have anything to do with the holidays. The long-running ska-punk band are billing it as a companion EP to last year's Greetings From EP, but that's selling it short. Whereas Greetings featured two slowed-down ska tracks, Seasons Greetings is practically nonstop pogo-punk with well-done horn accents—and when the ska shows up ("Done And Dusted"), it's peppy and energetic. And Greetings' biggest fault was a distinct lack of bassist Roger Manganelli's vocals, something which Seasons Greetings rectifies with "Finer Points Of Forgiveness" and EP standout "A Return To Headphones" (the chorus of which is so infectious, you'll be singing along with the "whoa-oh"s before you even realize it).
Even if LTJ's verses aren't as strong as on past efforts, this band still knows how to write a hook. The verses of "Younger Lungs" aren't anything special, but once the "so to who it may concern" pre-chorus begins, it sets up a monster of a chorus ("Three streets down and/One block over/That's where we do it all again"). A similar pattern shows up in "Done And Dusted"—it begins with upstroked verses and a slightly rough vocal take from Chris Demakes, but then some organ licks pop up as Demakes settles into his melody, and the half-time chorus just kills ("These days are gone/Done and dusted/And I don't wanna think about it").
While there are some less-than-stellar (and slightly predictable) moments on both Seasons Greetings From and its preceeding EP, Greetings From, between the two there is enough solid material to make fans not lose hope. As the band enter their 20th year of service, it's clear they've tried it all and suceeded at most of it; the Greetings EP series does little more than remind fans what they do best, but sometimes, that's all you need to do to remain relevant.