Top 40 Before 40 Rock Artists - #23 - Less Than Jake
I can honestly say that I have probably listened to about 1000+ hours of Less Than Jake music in my life, and I don’t regret one second of it.
It essentially became the anthem album of many of my friends and I, and it was played at many parties, on many road trips, in sports locker rooms, in the high school parking lot, and just in general to have a good time.
For those of you who are just joining this list at this point, let me give a quick summary below:
- In my almost 40 years on this planet, I have had the great pleasure of listening to a lot of music that doesn't make it to the airwaves, and a lot of these bands are some of my absolute favorites.
- You WILL see some Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame bands on the list too, but for the most part, you are likely going to disagree with this list almost entirely.
- I am sharing this ranking so that you get some insight into some great bands you may have never heard before AND for a little bit of a personal challenge to myself to rank these bands.
With that said, let's get to #23 on my Top 40 List Before 40:
By bendus from Germany - Flickr, CC BY 2.0
If you know anything about Less Than Jake, other than that they are a punk-ska band, it would be most likely that you know they are from Gainesville, Florida.
They make it known in many of their songs (including “Gainesville Rock City”) and the album title GNV FLA.
I know nothing of Gainesville except that’s where the University of Florida is located, and that Less Than Jake is from there.
However, from listening to their songs, you would probably get the feeling that you wouldn’t want to be stuck there for long periods of your life.
I think like most bands, they wanted to get up and get out of their familiar surroundings so that they could grow and experience more of life.
This certainly is a focus of much of LTJ’s early albums, and though they commiserate fondly on memories of their adolescence, there seems to be a desire to leave their small pond and go find the ocean.
This is probably why their music was so popular with me and my high school friends. I lived in Mandan, North Dakota, and we all definitely felt the pains of the life of a small town that is all too familiar.
“History Of A Boring Town” was dead on to what I know I felt in high school.
The concept of the song was a little something about how you grow up with all these people in your town who hold on to what you USED to be, and they can never see you for what you are or what you want to become.
So, if you were unpopular in high school, you were never going to mean much to them. If you were ugly back then, you were ugly forever. Whatever it may be.
The whole catalog that Less Than Jake puts out is quite catchy, and they definitely make a poppy version of punk & ska. But the one good thing is that they ALWAYS have high energy and definitely put on great shows.
I remember seeing them at a Warped Tour in like 1999 or 2000, and they had about 600 people or more doing a mosh circle around the sound booth. It looked like a crazy stampede of cows with dust flying everywhere (as it was an outdoor venue in Wisconsin, I believe).
They have definitely been around, put down some great songs, and built a lasting memory of what getting the hell out of a small town means to me. For that, I will always appreciate their music, and I will probably never stop listening to them either.
If you want to check them out for the first time, I recommend these albums in this order:
After that, you can just listen to anything and everything they make, because you will be hooked.
They even released a new album in 2020 called Silver Linings that got them nominated for Comeback of the Year in our 2020 Best of Rock Music Awards!
Similar Artists That I Recommend That Didn't Make The Top 40: