Reis is one of my favorite musical influences of the past couple of years. This release has the loud, dueling guitar sound of their premiere, but it also includes some slower, mellower sections that are reminiscient of the ebb-and-tide sound of Fugazi in their exploitation of tension and release. Nice subtle change, though I do find myself appreciating the relentless sound of their first a little more. Like Slint, Rodan, etc., they seem to also contribute to something of a trend I've noticed in some corners of the post-punk world: the turnabout from punk minimalism (e.g., 50 cuts in 30 minutes a la the Minutemen) towards the epic 9-minute songs that punk originally sought to demolish from the days of overwrought classical wannabes like Yes and Rush. We all could do without a punk cover of "In A Gadda Da Vida," but it probably is about time for those areas to be reexamined after nearly 20 years. Powerful stuff -- still one of the best albums of the year. A steal at $12; buy it for $15 if you have to. (p.s.: By all means buy pre-DLJ Pitchfork's Eucalyptus -- $12).
Yank Crime, the band's major-label debut, doesn't sacrifice the heaviness of its indie releases. How can you not love a band that marries the pounding pulse and bass-heavy, odd-tempoed oeuvre of Slip It In-era Black Flag with the guitar shards of Mission of Burma or Wire (singer Rick Froberg's got that brain-scraping delivery down)? Jehu is Rollins without the shtick, Rage Against the Machine without the anal-retentive political correctness, Tool without the metal residue. "Do You Compute" is a rant that winds and unwinds from its mock-computer guitar intro through its hellaciously tricky arrangement, and, unlike so many compositions, doesn't lose you in its desire to impress with its show of "chops." (Fellow San Diegans Rocket from the Crypt, please take note.)
[Do you think this guy knows that John Reis doubles in RFTC?! -- sv]
Besides, sincerity that doesn't announce itself is such a relief today, when imported attitude is the norm. Drive Like Jehu does its do without ugly fanfare, and the record is worth the price if only for the glorious build-up to the chorus of "Here Come The Rome Plows." Metal like this almost redeems every boneheaded CD we jaded reviewers have to endure.
They played mostly new stuff from Yank Crime, two from the first ("Caress" and "Spikes To You") and one song that I don't know (it was probably that thing on the Headhunter comp that everyone raves about).
If you like their albums, then you'll be blown over by their live sound, and their wired intensity. My roomate called em `focused'. I like the word. Plus, nothing beats standing in front of John's double-amp stack and taking in that howling geetar.
Drive Like Jehu came on shortly after I finished that Weizenberry and I was immediately impressed by how good they *sounded*. I don't know if it was some euphoric thing caused by the beer on top of thai iced coffee but the mix sounded perfect. It could be just as much a property of the venue and I'd never know since Doo Rag was not a very good point of comparison. DLJ had the standard two guitars, bass, and drums. They were doing some pretty cool stuff with the guitars - slow one-note melodies over a thick layer of rhythm guitar alternated with fast repetitious trance-inducing chunks. The one thing they were *not* was "surf-punk"y as described in Willamette week. Oh well. I don't feel I could possibly be that far off the mark and that was written by a professional.
The only thing that really turned me off about them was the vocals. The front man had that scream-in-the-mic-cause-i'm-so-angry style that really irks me. I kept thinking if Low Barlow was whining something I could understand in front of this band I would have been hooked.
By this time, our brains were overly frazzled by the heat and the brown liquids consumed so it was quite a struggle to come to terms with Drive Like Jehu's dense and intricate sound; they don't make things easy for the listener with scattered rhythyms and power playing. The struggle was worthwhile and after a few songs, you ended up entering into and believing their screwed-up world. Then when you'd sorted out the toe-tapping sequence, you could appreciate the energy and skill on show. Maybe they dragged towards the end but afterwards it was the nice buzz of "boy am I glad to get THAT out of my system... now for some fun!"