DRIVE LIKE JEHU: Yank Crime: CD

Drive Like Jehu, like Jawbox, were two of the very first bands which made me realize that if you imbed the vocalist and use their voice as an instrument instead of it being the focus of a song, the whole composition and intent of music shifts a bit. When this first came out, I listened to it for over a year in high rotation and it wasn’t as perishable as other things because it was so dense, but so fast and complex. Prior to Yank Crime, I don’t think I’d ever sat through a nine minute song (like “Luau!”) without squirming before. With Drive Like Jehu, I didn’t get bored with the vocals, because it’s so easy to pay attention to any other instrument and take a sneak peek into how songs are made. If you’ve never heard of Drive Like Jehu, imagine yourself naked and imagine one of those temporary tattoos that comes in a Cracker Jack box. Imagine that tattoo as big as your entire body, have it be a map of a foreign land with lines as complex as your own circulatory system. Wet the tattoo, then have the whole thing applied to the drum of a steamroller. Have it run over you. It’s thick, complex, dynamic rock, fast enough for punks, hard enough for rockers, but also very mentally crushing for egghead dorks such as myself. They’ve got the audio taffy down to a tight science. When the songs slow, they scream and pull in different ways and bring out diverse comparisons, including Kronos Quartet. Differences from the original and this reissue? To no fault of their own, for some baffling reason, a limp wristed squadron of emo bands have latched onto Drive Like Jehu as an influence. Don’t let those toolboxes deter you from a great album.

 –todd (Swami)