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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
At the Drive-In
Fearless Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
At the Drive In have been playing together since 1994, with a few lineup changes and a slew of tours along the way that have brought them into contact with the likes of Fugazi, the Cosmic Psychos, Bluetip, Jimmy Eat World, the Get-Up Kids, the Promise Ring and Sonic Youth. I missed them when they were in New York this fall opening for the Foo Fighters, but I heard that they're gonna be opening up for Rage Against The Machine sometime in 2000, so I might catch 'em then. I'd imagine that the guys in this band (Jim, Pall, Omar, Cedric, and Tony) put on a crazy live show, I've never seen 'em live but have heard some rumors ("these guys rock live") that this is the case (you can take that for what its worth).

On Vaya, the band's third recorded release (after Acrobatic Tenement and In/Casino/Out), it seems like this self-proclaimed "El Paso emo band" is struggling to translate that live show energy into a recorded experience. Some of the tracks on this guitar driven CD have real solid harmonic passages, and most of them are well structured and hard as hell (I'm not even sure why they use the term "emo"), but I wasn't too blown away by the lyrics or the vocals. Lines like "in the unlikely event that sarcasm is an unfitting dress/amnesia proletariat/amnesia proletariat/coughing up the coffins cotton candy teeth/ the reflection of your enamel made no reflection in our mirror" (from "300MHz"), just don't strike any chord with me.

Nevertheless, these guys can fucking play. Two guitars vie for attention, creating a crunching assault for the vocals to float in on, the drummer holds the beat down, and they build up a lot of tension from song to song. The only problem is that not much distinguishes one song from the other, except for some slight tempo changes and slowed down passages. Two tracks that put this formula to good use are "Metronome Arthritis", with vocal effects reminiscent of Robert Plant on Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti, and "Heliotrope", which is fast and veers off into distorted segues and slowed down interludes. But other than these tracks, I wasn't too overwhelmed by anything on this CD. Call me a cynic, but some of this stuff sounds like 92.3 percent of the other bands out there. I'm really interested in (A) seeing this band live, to see what these guys can do in person, and (B) hearing their next full length release. With lots of major label attention over the past year, I'm curious to see what direction they move in. DEN Entertainment, the label they've signed with, is an indie with major distribution, so that might influence they're output, hopefully it'll be in the right way.

Reviewed by James Hoey
A long-time contributing writer for LAS, Jim lives in North Carolina and drives an early 70s model mustard yellow Chevrolet Blazer.

See other reviews by James Hoey



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