Hurtling out of Gainesville, FL, Less Than Jake's decidedly generic sound initially raised few eyebrows around the local punk scene. That all changed in 1993, when the year-old quartet heard British skacore heroes Snuff. Inspired, the band enlisted saxophonist Jessica Schaub and reinvented its sound. Now serving up a blistering mix of third-wave ska and melodic punk, the band swiftly excited attention from all quarters, and a multitude of indie labels. Pezcore, their debut album, duly arrived in 1995, and across 19 numbers LTJ illuminated just what all the fuss was about. They weren't the only high-energy band on the scene, nor the only group with a predilection for catchy tunes and anthemic choruses, nor even the only bunch to fold ska into their sound, but they were one of the few to combine all three talents in one exhilarating package. What really made LTJ stand out, however, was the way they combined ska and punk. At the time, most bands had their separate punk and ska numbers, while a few would dramatically shift genres in the center of a song. LTJ, though, oftentimes skittered between punk and ska, so closely were the styles interwoven in the arrangements. The jittery "Blindsided" is a case in point, as the rhythm section and guitarist hiccup from rock to reggae, and the brass sprays out overhead. Equally important, the band didn't save the horns just for its straight ska songs; flooding even seemingly straight-ahead punk rockers like "My Very Own Flag," only a few of the harder speedcore numbers like "Jen Doesn't Like Me Anymore" and "Black Coffee" escape. "Growing Up on a Couch," in contrast, illustrates just how brilliantly the band interjected sax into hardcore. And it was this that truly captured fans' imaginations. Pezcore was filled with many such brilliant moments and soon-to-be fan faves, with standouts including "Jen," "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts," "Liquor Store," the incredibly tight "Boomtown," and the list goes on and on. The legend started right here.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene