Hilltops
Hartwick College's Student Newspaper

The View From Oyaron Hill

A Music Review: Sound the Alarm, Less than Jake's Call to Action

03.01.17


Tim Raimy


On February 3rd, 2017 Florida ska band Less Than Jake released their new EP Sound the Alarm. While the EP doesn’t stray away from their usual instrumental sound and the lyrics bring attention to feuding optimistic and pessimistic attitude their lyrics usually hold, I can’t help but wonder if the potential meanings of some of the songs on the album may be subtly bringing attention to the current political situation in the United States.


The opening track “Call to Arms” commands calling arms against all misfortunes and shortcomings that one has faced in their life and wanting to change for the better. The second track, “Whatever the Weather” slows down the speed set by “Call to Arms” and comments on being overwhelmed and feeling like things are out of your control and that the times are “too heavy” but no matter the situation stresses not wavering and standing to face the “Weather” you face. Politically most would agree that we are facing unpleasant “Weather” and that it is important to do what you must to keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed or “sinking like a stone”, as the lyrics to the song reference. 


Find support if you need it and be support for others if you see they need it. Whatever the weather we cannot waver. The third track “Bomb Drop” stresses being proactive and not waiting around for things to get easier. This could translate to the importance of being involved in or supporting political organizations that push positive messages and ideas that have goals set to help the good of people and the environment.


The fourth track “Welcome to My Life” doesn’t cater to the idea that the album is politically charged and instead is an account of regret for things in a person’s life that they have done and are not proud of and that the weight of that is a defining part of their life. The track ends in an apology, “Hey everybody, I say I’m sorry.”


 Kicking up the energy and bringing the album back into the political sphere is “Good Sign:” a song that comments that things were changing and it is perceived as something good, referencing the original Democratic and Liberal hope that came from supporters of Bernie Sanders, but then being faced with Conservative Republican push back. The lyrics of the song continue to comment on the current political climate. For example the lyrics, “the pages turn as we twist our words between fact and myth,” could be a commentary on the controversy over “alternative facts.” The lyrics, “we fed the flames as our bridges burned,” could be a reference to the complications within the Republican party and how many Republicans don’t approve of the actions of the Trump administration and the people within it, as well as weakening of relations with other world leaders. 


In a similar way, “we were the first to say, ‘let’s throw it all away’” seems like an accurate representation of the actions of the Trump administration toward Obama era legislation or the perspective of far leftists wanting to abolish the Electoral College and advocating for change of the executive power. Finally, “now we’re fighting through the doom and gloom” could be an interpretation of the demonstrations and protests that have been happening across the country.


The sixth track, “Years of Living Dangerously” comments further on how people are feeling overwhelmed and that there aren’t positive feelings towards the executive administration, with repeating lyrics, “Tell me the truth about this cruel cruel world / Cause I don’t think I trust you.” 


The closing track, “Things Change” finishes off the album optimistically that there is the possibility of positive change but it isn’t something that will simply come to you, it must be worked for. The time we are currently in is not one that we can sit idle for four years and expect to fix everything after a change of hands in the executive branch: we must be proactive so as to hopefully have less that needs fixing.