Drive Like Jehu

Share:   Facebook  Yo, sup. Yo, here - dig Mark Prindle's dope reviews of fucken Drive Like JehuTwitter   Email to friend               

God Is Their Co-Pilot
*special introductory paragraph!
*Drive Like Jehu
*Yank Crime

Drive Like Jehu was an early '90s San Diego band who sounded kinda like Fugazi. This is their story.

Drive Like Jehu - Cargo/Headhunter 1991
Rating = 7

This album basically sounds like a less hooky Fugazi -- mainly because the guitar tones are so similar to Fugazi's that the comparison is unavoidable. In truth thought, these songs are much more consistently hard and loud than Fugazi's (as that band likes a dubby/quiet/diverse moment every now and again) and much less consistently melodic. Adjectives, adjectives. Enough of these adjectives. Let's see if I took any decent notes. I'm exhausted.

Oh yes, here we go. "Loud Fugazi guitar sound + high-pitched young-sounding vocals." "Fugazi-sounding band with Sonic Youth ringy guitar breaks." "Very Fugazi." That's quite insightful, my notes. Thank you for your help.

Comprised of emotionally screamy high-pitched lead singer/guitarist Rick Froberg, guitarist/wheezy lower-toned backing vocalist John Reis, bassist Mike Kennedy and drummer Mark Trombino, Drive Like Jehu came storming out of San Diego in 1991 with volume-burning amplifiers and a taste for oddball guitar noises. Their key weakness on this first record is a lack of songwriting discipline that renders a few too many of the passages "loud, shrieky and instantly forgettable." But their considerable strengths include a compelling and desperate-sounding vocalist, abject refusal to merely play their guitars as taught in Guitar School, and an unabiding love for loud hard cock.

Actually, that word might not be 'cock.' Can't quite read my handwriting there.

Interesting guitar approaches on display include:

- "Spikes To You" features a brief guitar break that sounds like a gigantic flying cockroach gearing up to shoot straight into your eyeball

- "O Pencil Sharp" begins with a full two and a half minutes of Froberg and Reis tapping their fingers on the back of their guitar necks, making an ethereal "brooooooo" noise. It's a boring, stupid waste of time, but I thought I'd point it out anyway.

- "Atom Jack"'s riff is built around awesome laser-beam 'Beeeeeoooo!'-sounding slides

- "If It Kills You"'s introductory guitar line is comprised of above-the-nub strumming (high-pitched 'GLING GLING GLING!') and some sort of palm-muted picking (toneless 'thuck thuck thuck'). Later they break into Sonic Youthy alternate-tuning slide guitar, before ending the song by detuning their strings!

- "Good Luck In Jail" begins with stereophonic rhythmic super-high-note tapping -- making your speakers sound like they're full of chirping crickets)

- "Turn It Off" once again presents a riff based on crazy swoops up and down the neck.

- "Future Home Of Stucco Monstrosity" has a... umm... 'riff,' I guess you'd call it... composed of a strangled string bend and some bizarre muted 'skroonka-scraggla' noise coming from goodness knows what kind of guitar abuse

And that's where they excel on this album: not in 'songwriting' per se, but in creating music that's interesting because of how it's played. The portions comprised of normal chord and note arrangements mostly just sound like sub-par Fugazi. The notable exceptions are the wonderfully poppy chorus of "Step On Chameleon" and the awesome 7/4 hard-and-fast rock riffer "Caress" (a word describing the exact OPPOSITE of what this song does to your ass!), which has a lot more in common with the music on Yank Crime than it does its fellow material herein.

Fans of the guitar (like myself) will probably find much more here to enjoy than the average music-listening citizen. But make him listen to it anyway, because there's some really neat stuff going on between the plain jane chord sequences. Plus he's a sissy, the fag. Man him up a little. Fuck him in the ass.

I don't even know what I'm typing at this point. I fell asleep in the middle of the bullet points.

Add your thoughts?

Yank Crime - Interscope/Headhunter 1994
Rating = 8

Nobody knows more than me that when life throws you a curveball, you have to try your best to make lemons out of it. Unfortunately, I've had about 40,000 curveballs (metaphorically) hurled into my penis over the past month and a half, so it's getting a bit difficult. You've all heard my grim tales of unemployment, fear of failure, and problems securing unpaid wages from my immoral ex-boss, but the last few days have added yet another exciting ice cream cake of joy to the Victory Party that has been my 2009 to date. Here, pull up a Cher and let me tell you about it.

First of all, I know you're sitting there going, "Hay I expected Mark to update on Friday, February 13th and yet here it is Sunday, February 15th and he's only now getting around to finishing up his Drive Like Jehu page. Also, he's naked. I'm looking through his window." Well, there's a reason for my tardiness: I've spent twelve and a half hours (and nearly two thousand dollars) at two different animal hospitals over the past two days. Then I realized, "Oh shit, I'm a human!"

Ha ha! No, that was just a little joke to lighten the oppressive mood. The real story is that on Friday morning I took Henry The Dog for his usual morning stroll around the neighborhood. We visited The Treat Lady, who as usual gave him five billion of those protein-heavy treats I always tell her only to give him one or two of because they're bad for his insufficient kidney. Then we went to PetCo and he enjoyed a couple of their delightful wafer crackers. Finally we stopped into Staples, where he enjoyed sniffing some Asian woman's food bag for a few minutes. Everything was in its right place, and nothing was wrong. On the way home, I thought he seemed to be limping a little, but wasn't sure. Okay, here's where everything TURNED TO SHIT.

We were walking upstairs to our apartment. On the fourth floor, I reached down to take off his leash and he let out a pained yelp. Thinking that he'd hurt his footy (having observed limp-like behavior outside), I reached down and tested all of his footies. His right front one appeared to be the culprit. So we got to our apartment and, although I was due to attend some dumb fucking stupid waste of time piece of shit Unemployment Class 45 minutes later, I figured I should take a closer look at his footy. I reached down to lift it and he pulled it away. I grabbed it again, tested each pad and the spaces between the pads, and gave it a quick squeeze. At this, he cried out and ran away, hunched over. I turned him around, apologized and told him it was time for breakfast. As I prepared his delicious breakfast of Hill's KD topped with green tripe, I noticed he was sitting in a very awkward position and looking at the ground. I went over to check on him and he wouldn't look at me. Then he walked to the bathroom, hovered over the toilet and started crying. Then after a few minutes, he drank a TON of water out of the toilet, lay down and began moaning. I called the wife and she said, "Get him to Vet now."

To make a long story short, nobody at the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Hospital could figure out what was wrong. They couldn't find anything amiss in his blood test, ultrasound or x-ray, and he was crying so much that they couldn't make out which part of him actually HURT when they pressed it. We went to a second hospital (Animal Medical Center), but he was so drugged up on methadone by that point that he wasn't feeling any pain at all. So we went home.

Saturday morning he was crying just as much, obviously still in great pain and refusing to eat anything. We took him back to the Animal Medical Center, a group of experts convened and one who knows about these things decided to test a part of his spine that often 'goes bad' in large dogs his age. And that was when he screamed.

Henry has a slipped or ruptured disc in his neck, and the pain-induced nausea is preventing him from eating anything (although we finally got him to eat some turkey and cheese). Apparently when a dog has a neck problem like this, he can feel it in his legs as well, which is why he was limping right before the disc totally went bad.

The good news is that he'll live. The bad news is that he's going to be in pain for some time - possibly up to six weeks. It's heartbreaking to see him like this. When he's not sleeping, he's crying! His neck and legs hurt tremendously, and he's frustrated because he can't eat any of his favorite foods. He won't go outside because it's too painful to walk down five flights of stairs, and all we can do is hug him and try to make him understand that at some point he will feel better.

I realize this doesn't help you decide whether or not to buy Drive Like Jehu's Yank Crime, but it's really hard to give a shit about things like record reviews when my little fuzzy guy is suffering so much.

Why, yes! I DO mean my penis!

But enough uproarious penis gags. Let's quickly discuss Yank Crime so I can update the site and go the hell to bed where a person belongs at 2:32 AM on a Sunday morning of life.

First of all, I guess I should apologize to all my MySpace friends who foolishly assumed I would give this record a 10. And okay, maybe I'm partly to blame for their error since I told them I was giving it a 10, but come on - since when have I been a reliable source about anything? The fact is that when I listened to it 2nite (post-Henry The Dog's Injury) it sounded like a really good rock album, but not a perfect one. And here's my reasoning:

IF YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE ALBUM, PLEASE READ MY REASONING HERE: "New Math" sounds just like "Human Interest" but boringer, and "Sinews" (after its excellent two-and-a-half-minute intro) is the slowest and most tedious song in the history of the Bible.

IF YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE ALBUM, PLEASE READ MY REASONING HERE: one song sounds a lot like another one that's better, and the album ends with 7 minutes of me yawning as the band bores the fuck out of me.

However, Yank Crime is still an extremely strong hard rock record -- the highest of high 8's. Unlike its predecessor, this album is jampacked with killer guitar and vocal hooks - and Fugazi doesn't come to mind once! Rick Froberg remains the most passionate and compelling high-pitched punk vocalist in the world (god, just LISTEN to the way he shouts "ROME PLOOOOOWS! ROME PLOOOOOWS!" in the first song!), and the double guitar interplay is confident, intelligent and even a bit diverse this time (ex. pretty and haunting "Do You Compute," fast brash Superchunky "Golden Brown," post-punk blooze-rocker "Luau," sad slow instrumental "New Intro").

I hope it doesn't sound insulting to say that they've traded interesting guitar technique for strong riffs, but it's true. Froberg and Reis don't use any guitar gimmicks on here at all. The fact that they were able to improve their songwriting skills to such a degree that you don't even notice the lack of "axe trix" is really quite astonishing. So I'd like to wish a hearty "Good show, Drive Like Jehu!," even though they broke up 15 years ago and went on to form Hot Snakes. One of the guys was in Rocket From The Crypt too.

Also, one time I had this really awesome popsicle.

Reader Comments

Geez, Mark... so sorry to hear about Henry's troubles. Glad to hear he'll recover. A cat of mine had some spinal problems and it didn't end well, so the fact that he'll soon be better is good news.

I've never heard Drive Like Jehu, but I've been on the lookout for them for years, since I'm a big fan of Creedle, another San Diego band from the early 90s, and I heard about DLJ from reading about them. Creedle even wrote a song called "Trombino", after Mark Trombino, their drummer (a fact I didn't know until just now). Thanks for the review, I'm even more motivated to pick this up now. And hopefully I'll see some Creedle reviews here someday!
Dude, I cannot believe you rank these two records and Yank Crime in particular so low. Consider all the mediocre punk records you have given 10 stars over the years, and here you have one of the most ass-kicking records in the history of punk, and you give it an 8. These songs are epic! Here Come The Rome Plows is one of the most intense songs I have ever heard. Listen to that pummeling bass line, listen to that intricate and strange guitar riff. Listen to that guy screaming his lungs out. Listen to those awesome guitar clicks. Listen to how it segues from pummeling into beautifully melodic back into pummeling in the span of a few seconds. Track 2, Do You Compute has to the best 9 minute song in the history of rock music. Oh yeah, and they almost surpass it on track 4, another epic monster. Forget about the boringness of some of the later tracks. These first 4 are so wonderful, this record deserves at least a nine! (I consider it a surefire 10, but I am trying to compromise.) Mark, I feel sad about your dog but I really have to ask you to reconsider this review. Please throw me a bone and raise the stars or I will have a conniption.

Add your thoughts?

Sail like Jehoshaphat to buy these CDs cheap on Amazon!

Or fly like Nimshi back to