Best start to a year ever? At The Drive-In deciding to play some shows and Refused breaking a 14 year silence? Hell (Paso) yes. Two bands that both shaped the sound of punk in different ways have returned. For nostalgic purposes and because I’ve got nothing to write about at the moment due to listening to Relationship of the Shape of Casino to Fan The Flames of Tenement to Come, let’s have Keep It Fast’s favourite At The Drive-In/Refused songs
At The Drive-In
n.b. Anyone who says ‘One Armed Scissor’ isn’t brilliant is lying, so we’ll take that as a given.
The opening track to their compilation album; ‘This Station Is Non-Operational’ and fifth track from the ‘El Gran Orgo’ EP; ‘Fahrenheit’ is a somewhat raw, brash sounding track, featuring distorted vocals, an infectious chorus (“if these walls could speak I wouldn’t tell them anything”) as well as mixing a sombre hopelessness into proceedings. It still sounds suitably vicious and visceral and paves the way for the material that would appear on ‘In/Casino/Out’.
‘Cosmonaut’ is fucking mental. The opening rollicking is a complete headspin of twisting guitars, gnashing keyboards, drum beats that barely stand up right, an insane-asylum of debauched punk rock chaos. Nothing sounds like this – its pandemonium.
Ask various folk what their favourite album opener is and chances are ‘Arc Arsenal’ rates as a firm favourite. Described by someone as “a herd of buffalo stampeding forward for a collision with a freight train” – yeah that will do. Whatever that ‘sound’ is – that see-sawing caterwaul – my god, you’re just waiting for the hit. It’s one big tantalizing nerve-shred of maniacal tension.
For Now…We Toast
One of the more sedate offers from ‘In/Casino/Out’ from the outset at least. ‘For Now…We Toast’ features a the strolling bass intro and almost jaunty drumbeats, the trademark see-saw guitars, Cedric’s opting for a spoken-word ramble that breaks into a childish sing-song on the chorus. It’s an ungainly and intriguing track, showing a fractured side to At The Drive-In which isn’t all big-hair-chaos-merchant-destruction.
“Hello mother leopard, I have your cub. You must protect her, but that will be expensive. Ten thousand cola nuts wrapped in brown paper, midnight behind the box. I’ll be the hyena…you’ll see.”
SACRIFICE ON RAILROAD TRACKS – FREIGHT, FREIGHT TRAIN COMIN’ FREIGHT, FREIGHT TRAIN COMIN’! – One of, if not the best track on ‘Relationship of Command’; ‘Enfilade’ features Iggy Pop on the intro, handclaps, a weird calypso-ska build in the middle and madcap intensity.
Likewise, can we say take ‘New Noise’ as a given? CAN I SCREAM???? YEAH!
Rather Be Dead
A taunt, dense, sinister tone from ‘Songs To Fan The Flames of Discontent’; ‘Rather Be Dead’ is a scathing, spit-filled rattle and perhaps one of the best songs not to appear on THAT album. The video features the band playing in a house overrun with snails – remember, play it good and loud. “RATHER BE ALIVE…RATHER BE ALIVE….”
The Deadly Rhythm
The kick around the 18 second mark – oh my goodness. This is the kind of track most punk bands now would sell their teeth for. Dennis Lyxzen’s snappy, high-pitched wail shreds through the dense, bludgeoning guitars, whilst when it builds up that uncontrollable rage and aggression it’s completely mesmerising. They even have time to throw in some jazz-bass in the mid section for good measure. Like ‘New Noise’ the phrase, ‘Chimerical Bombination’ has never sounded so apt.
Worms of the Senses/Facilities of the Skull
We all know the opening lines to this one. The distorted minute long opening and spoken word samples explode into a crunching, seething ball of antagonistic rage – capitalism is grabbed by the throat. It dips between punk, post-hardcore, noise, trance-elements and odd falsettos to create a 7 minute hybrid of patchwork retuned through an old radio. “Let’s take the first bus out of here.”
This is Refused doing raucous, belligerent hardcore punk without frills, but that same intensity. The trademark rumbling bass guitar and drum lead punctures through so perfectly, whilst Lyxzen spits his vocals with a strutting arrogance.
The Shape of Punk To Come
“HEY BABY NEVER FELT THIS GOOD”. I’m not sure I need to put anything else. Just fucking listen to it.
At The Drive-In are set to play the Coachella Valley Music Festival mid April alongside Refused, who are set to play Groezrock, Monster Bash and Way Out West. See here for details.
I need a drink.