One of the biggest musical arguments I think I’ve ever had with my friends is which is better Hello Rockview or Losing Streak. Don’t get me wrong, Losing Streak is a perfect pop record. Every song is catchy as hell. You can put Losing Streak on at a party and people will sing along (assuming you party with like-minded punk/ska kids).
Regardless of all that, I still pick Hello Rockview. It has one thing over Losing Streak. It’s personal as hell. Every song comes from a very real place and specifically places that really hit home for me (a kid in the suburbs).
Songs like All My Best Friends Are Metal Heads and Big Crash are intensely catchy as well as emotional. The album is like a punk-ska version of Pinkerton or In Utero. It’s Vinnie’s (Less than Jake’s drummer/songwriter) reaction to the fame Losing Streak brought them.
Now obviously they were not close to the superstars that Weezer and Nirvana were, they weren’t even the most famous ska band at the time (Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and other were exploding) but they were that ska band that EVERY punk kid knew and loved.
The best songs on the album are History of Boring Town and Al’s War. On History of Boring Town Vinnie accurately describes life in a small town. “A boring life in a boring town with the same old crowd/I used to say I’d never stay but I’m rotting here today/with that same old crowd that’s always been around/and I always thought I’d be the first to go.”
All my life I’ve lived in this town (except for 6 months living in Los Angeles) and have hung with the exact same crowd I did in 2004. Nothing much happens in the town and while I have no regrets of moving back or sticking to a specific group, there is the feeling of resentment that Vinnie describes. Now the flip side of the coin is the closing track Al’s War.
Al’s War was a song that I had no opinion on for years. However when I moved to Los Angeles the song really hit me in heavy place, specifically with the opening line “Al said goodbye to his mom and dad for the first time in his life”. Not only was I leaving home but I was moving thousands of miles from them. However the song isn’t about how hard it is to leave home, the song is about the importance of doing so “Sometimes I Think I’m the only one that feels like going nowhere is like giving up.”
Hello Rockview is a record of catchy tunes but also songs that will make you go ‘yeah I’ve felt that way too.’ That’s why it will always be just a little better than Losing Streak.
Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.