The general idea of the EP is usually a band puts out an album full of non-album-worthy material to keep drooling fans happy, while in the meantime calling it a "release" and holding off for another 36 months for any of their fans to hear new material. Most of the time this is true, but alas there are the EPs that can really touch a listener. Instead of applying their knowledge into making a little album full of repetitious rock lore, they could try to channel their creative energy into a sort of different album. A landmark, if you will. Take Alice in Chains
' Jar of Flies
for example. The album doesn't feature the moan and groan dirt of it's predecessors, but instead take a step forward in both songwriting and musical performance.
At the Drive-In need not apply to either of these.
Post-Hardcore/Alternative/Indie kings At the Drive-In were at the top of their game when they released this EP. They had just released the successful In/Casino/Out
, and their sound had already changed from scream-drenched mess kings to real songwriters. Following the album, AtD-I put out this EP, which is neither a step forward for the band neither a step back; in fact, you could say this is a content album. It's predecessing album was mature, musical and aggressive (often at the same time), and you can tell that for the rest of their sadly short career, they kept on making classic music such as is found here. Needless to say, this is not a flawless, sheet-metal like album. Vaya
comes with bumps and bruises, often found in the shoddy production and the overall shortness of the album, and some songs, put simply, are just not as amazing as others. But on the other hand, the album has some incredibly beautiful moments, while managing to keep it's agressiveness on the side.
At the Drive-In - Vaya EP
Cedric Bixler Zavala- Vocals
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez- Lead Guitar
Jim Ward- Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Paul Hinojos- Bass
Tony Hajjar- Drums
This is not At the Drive-In's last stand. Not at all. Merely a year after this EP was released they released the explosive Relationship of Command
, which was undoubtedly the pinnacle of their musical abilites. This album is what people would call the journey to the destination, though I'd have to disagree. Sometimes the journey can be as good, maybe even better, than the destination. Vaya
would appear to be the greatest definition of this musically, as it has the aggressive production of In/Casino/Out
but features the genius songwriting found on RoC
. Take Metronome Arthritis
for an example. The song is shoddily produced, while fitting to the song, and the song is in itself a powerhouse. The sharp chords are teamed up accordingly with the rough and oblique production, and Cedric's vocal abilites are taken to their max with the echoing-while-singing and muffled-while-screaming sound. It's really the music that grabs your attention, as it has the aspect of being human, filled with realistic sounds that sound as if they were recorded in a garage, as well as the unreal restraint it shows in parts, while also managing to burst forth triumphantly in the most appropriate places - the places of triumph, most notably with Cedric's yelp barely covering the ambitious band.
While the album doesn't seem to be as influential as the full length albums, this album features some songs that no At the Drive-In fan should be without, Without being biased, this album has some gems that shine as brightly as possible, but unfortunately maybe one or two songs just make the album a somewhat less enjoyable listen. It's quite dissapointing when you ride from the aforementioned Metronome Arthritis
to the purely unsatisfying 300 mhz
. The song just lacks the aspects of familiartiy in terms of At the Drive-In material, and most of the time it sounds like a lame eighties spy show theme, with muffled and unjustifiable screams in the background. And the vocals in the bridge (I guess you'd call it) with Cedric passionately talking in another language/backwards doesn't come across as it should, which is powerful. It just comes out annoying, especially to the more naiive listener. But as far as con-tracks go, that's pretty much it, save for the minor things in assorted songs that can either make you blink twice or cringe, like the annoyingly programmed screech-guitar in the first verse of Raschuache
But the good will prevail, as usual in my reviews. Despite there being a weak track in the middle of the album, the album mostly comes out with an extremely triumphant sound. Though not always varied extremely, each song (minus Rashchuace
) is equally enjoyable especially for the sheer fact that they don't all have supremely different sounds but all have different little things, and the production can vary quite a little bit as well. Just take a look at Proxima Centauri
. Proxima Centauri
has the aggressiveness and dirtiness found on most of their earlier work, while managing to keep it fresh and interesting with their formulatic styling of the song, switching from the fast paced verses with miscellaneous percussions to the slower, more meaningful chorus that holds little more than a few power chords slapped together with some muffled distortion and a screaming Cedric. But 198d
, one of their best songs, the band take a more solemn and subtle approach to their aggression. With the calm and collected guitar in the verses and a very passionate vocal performance from Cedric, to the somewhat agressive chorus with some great backup yells and almost opera-like singing, as well as the rawness that occupies the rest of the album. 198d
not only has the slowness that most of the album, or a good deal of the album's predecessors, lacked, but also has the most passionate performance that I can recall from the guys. This is, essentially, a brilliant song. The album ends slowly, painfully and brutally amazing.
So, this is an EP. It's supposed to tide fans over until the next album, right? Well, I wouldn't say that at all. Sure, it was followed by one of the most incredible albums of the 21st century or, for that matter, the 20th century, but the guys really took this one to heart. Instead of bloating this EP up to an album which, I'm sure, would have much filler, they decided to create one of my favorite mini-albums of all time. Sure, it's not a classic, but only because it's too short and has 300 mhz
. Otherwise, this album is a really amazing listen that doesn't drag on too much but could've been longer. Basically, a great EP that is a valuable addition to AtD-I fans or fans of really tense, beautiful and at times disfigured music.