At the Drive-In



by YDload USER (16 Reviews)
January 31st, 2005 | 30 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

This is a short, quick, and brutally beautiful EP from everyone's favorite defunct El Paso indie/punk quintet. In order to retain interest among their fanbase before the release of their fatally successful Relationship of Command, ATDI came out with Vaya in 1999. The line-up for this band was:

Cedric Bixler Zavala- Vocals
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez- Lead Guitar
Jim Ward- Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Paul Hinojos- Bass
Tony Hajjar- Drums

Although there is really nothing quite resembling "lead" or "rhythm" on these tracks, it's widely accepted that Omar played the more melodic guitar parts which resembled "noodling" or "distorted ambient fuzz," both techniques which he would display in excess once he and Cedric formed The Mars Volta. Jim was heavily involved in the actual songwriting process, and you can hear his left-channel chords as well as assorted shouting on the album. The rest of the band functions about as normally as you would expect from such an abnormal, unique band.

This EP may seem short, but I'm sure if you took most of your semi-decent albums out of your collection and threw away all the filler, you'd be left with something of equal lenght and quality. Which is to say that At the Drive-In have deleted all unnecessary tracks from this album and reduced it to its raw, cathartic, pleading, abstract essence. The album contains at least everything you have come to expect from ATDI: shouting, screaming renditions of lyrics which make no sense (even though it FEELS like they do); clean guitars strummed with the ferocity of a punk band; and an overall vibe of "Wait... what"" Whatever Cedric is yelling about, it sure feels like something vaguely socio-political, as if you're guilty of not doing something you really should have done. But far from making us truly feel guilty, Vaya makes us feel warm and comforted, if a little bit heartbroken, by its conclusion.

1. Rascuache: The opening song starts off with a bit of ambient awe, as well as some thunderous synthesized drum beats. Then Cedric's vocals come in, interrupted by a sudden burst of good old-fashioned ATDI guitar power. The chorus brings everything back to normal, if not a bit slower. But certainly no less subdued. "Here comes the bride, here comes the bride, lavender and smothered in black turpentine!" Okay.

2. Proxima Centauri: This song combines two of the band's favorite lyrical subjects: astronomy and ancient Rome. They don't have much in common, but that's not what ATDI would have you believe. "No one ever saw the spacesuit togas," doesn't sound very safe, and neither is this song. The high-energy distorted bass line in the intro underscores the ascending guitar slides and Cedric's "T-minus/ ten seconds and counting," leaving you in anticipation. This song pays off in full for whatever you might be expecting of it. Intensity maybe" Definitely.

3. Ursa Minor: Here we have a song which is not very special in terms of the rest of the album, but is still a great listen nonetheless. The chorus and subdued bridge are slightly more upbeat, which doesn't seem to appear anywhere else in the album. So thank them for giving us a little break from the madness, only to end anyway with a shout of "Autopsy!"

4. Heliotrope: This is one of ATDI's most intense, fast-paced songs, ranked with the likes of "Cosmonaut" on their final album. Indeed, the songs follow a similar pattern of brutally energetic riffs which pause only for a moment in the chorus. The only problem this song suffers is that the lyrics are beyond lazy. "Turn slowly for maximum vend"" Sorry Cedric, you can't sing about gumball machines, regardless of what you want us to think the deeper meaning is. Like most ATDI songs, you'll just have to ignore the lyrics and focus on the energy.

5. Metronome Arthritis: A much slower song greets us here, and if you have little patience then you may not be able to wait for the song to pick up steam. It has the most clear-cut lyrics about a criminal on the run, but the way Cedric sings them makes them a bit hard to understand for a while. Then the song picks up and the chorus/solo from Omar lead the song into a very powerful and rewarding payout. Don't give up on this song, it will deliver.

6. 300 Mhz: Wow, this is arguably the weirdest song At The Drive-In have ever recorded. A rather funky, swingy beat grabs us as Cedric mumbles something over a bullhorn or something. There's not much to understand in this song, but there are two lyrical exceptions in this song. Cedric says both the title of the song (a rarity) and "fuck," which is even rarer for this normally too-obtuse-to-be-blatant band. The song is still pretty good, even if it's really, really bizarre by this band's standards.

7. 198d: All right, listen up closely: this is the greatest, most powerful, most moving song that At the Drive-In has ever recorded. You can judge for yourself if you must, and even if you have some other personal favorite, you can't deny the beauty of this song. It's a slower, quieter (in the verse), almost ballad-like song. But the chorus and bridge are where the song truly shines, as well as Jim's backing vocals. If you're ever feeling down or kind of low, this song probably won't lift your spirits much. But it will empathize with you and amplify your mood, and you won't mind because you'll be so awed. If you think the hyperbole is a bit off-putting, then please don't listen to the song and have your hopes dashed. Just listen to it without expectations, to see how you feel about it. But I really think it's magnificent.

This seven-song EP is possibly the band's greatest work, just from the consistency and strength of every track. I wouldn't say that EVERYONE should own it, but anyone who likes this type of music will undoubtedly be impressed and satisfied with Vaya. I'll give it a 4.5/5.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
January 31st 2005


Album Rating: 3.5

Acrobatic Tenement is better.


January 31st 2005


Bought it a lil' while ago, and love it. Better than In Casio/Out, IMO, but probably because it feels a lillte more focused

January 31st 2005


Second favourite, I like RoC more.

January 31st 2005


Heliotrope is the best song on here

Good review

February 1st 2005



February 1st 2005


in my opinion. if you don't know what the song is about you shouldn't be saying anything negative about it. and to call the lyrics lazy is in a way hipocritical. you call his lyrics lazy i call you lazy for not finding the deeper meaning. Where you like spoon fed til you where a teen or something?

February 1st 2005


Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=???]in my opinion. if you don't know what the song is about you shouldn't be saying anything negative about it. and to call the lyrics lazy is in a way hipocritical. you call his lyrics lazy i call you lazy for not finding the deeper meaning. Where you like spoon fed til you where a teen or something?[/quote]

Please teach me how to be as smart as you. Also, I'd like a supplementary couse in Internet = Serious Business 101.

February 1st 2005


Album Rating: 4.5

Also, I'd like to counter your accusation of hypocrisy by calling YOU the hypocrite. You're too lazy to use spell check.

Cedric Blixer Zavala
February 24th 2005


i didnt know jim and jeremy were related!

Dr. Jake Destructo
April 18th 2005


Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. I just picked up this album 2 days ago, and I like ATDI a lot more than The Mars Volta. Bixler's vocals are a lot less offensive on this EP. :p

August 10th 2005


Album Rating: 4.5

Wow, I forgot I reviewed this one. I think my comments still stand true. Even though Acrobatic Tenement has some great songs, none of them can quite match "198d" for sheer power.

December 24th 2005


Album Rating: 5.0

Vaya is the greatest piece of recorded sound in the history of mankind. I will believe that to my grave.

If you combine Austere by Sparta and Tremulant by the Mars Volta, you get Vaya. This was their greatest achievement as musicians.

The Jungler
February 1st 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I listened to this a while ago... I didnt think it was classic but ill listen to it again.

I thought 198d was by far the best song though.

March 21st 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

such a great album,as you'd expect from at the drive in.

all the songs are brilliant and unique,but my personal faves are ursa minor,heliotrope and 198d(and i gotta disagree with your review,i think hourglass is the most beautiful song a.t.d-i wrote...)

April 22nd 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

What the fuck are you talking about? ^

This is an amazing EP.

May 15th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Rasuache is like an orgasm in my ears. The electronica intro, the salsa-ish feel, the tempo change in the first chorus... i love it

May 24th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

This band changed my thought on how music is aproached. Totally innovative band as well as in my opinion best cd they produced. great review.

May 30th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Great review. I agree with a lot of the stuff in it. 198D and Metronome Arthritis are indeed excellent songs. Great job!

June 12th 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

"198d", "Rascuache," "Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt," "The Haunt of Roulette Dares," "Cassandra Geminni," and "The Palpitations Form A Limit" are the coolest songs Cedric and Omar have created.

I simply love this EP.

June 24th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

There is not a weak song on this album.

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