Sunday, September 12, 2010

Drive Like Jehu - Yank Crime

Title: Yank Crime
Artist: Drive Like Jehu
Year: 1994
Had since: 2005
How I got it: Big Daddy's in Provo
Why I have it: My first exposure to this band was a song called "On A Rope" by Rocket From The Crypt.

I loved this song when I was 15. But at the time, I had no way of knowing that lead singer/guitarist John Reis used to be in a band called Drive Like Jehu.

When I first heard about them, it was in connection to the 90s emo scene, and specifically in comparison to Fugazi and Quicksand (who I already loved) and being an influence on At The Drive-In (which turned out to be an overblown claim).

The album itself put me off at first. Half the songs are about nine minutes long, and the band rocks so hard throughout that it becomes exhausting to listen to. Over the top of this messy, noisy, chaotic rock there's this guy just screaming in an agitated voice. Two thoughts come to mind. First of all, what the hell was Interscope thinking when they signed this band to a major label deal? There's not one single moment of commercial appeal on the entire record. Second, how in the world did they come up with this sound? It's crazy yet controlled, equal parts power and precision, loud and violent but in a way that transcends genre qualifiers. The closest I could think to label it is "progressive hardcore", and that still doesn't quite work.

The point is that Yank Crime is a unique record, and it's easy to see why they broke up right after this. They did what they set out to do, and left it at that. The band has influenced countless people, yet no one will ever sound just like them. That, by itself, is the best testament to their lasting impact.

Last note: Before producing albums for bands like Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World, Mark Trombino was one hell of a drummer. Listen to these fills.

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