# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

At The Drive In - Acrobatic Tenement

  by Paul Waller

published: 10 / 4 / 2013

At The Drive In - Acrobatic Tenement
Label: Transgressive Records
Format: CD


Roughly recorded and surprisingly unremarkable 1996 debut album from influential Texan hardcore act At the Drive In, which has been released to coincide with their recent reunion

The thing I love about At the Drive-In is that when they play live they are such a mess. They are the embodiment of 21st Century punk rock and yet most of their music came out at the tail end of the century before it. Cedric Bixlar-Zavala (vocals) and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (guitar) were always about the spirit and energy of the music when playing live rather than capturing the technical proficiency of the music itself. Whilst I appreciate their breakthrough album 'Relationship of Command' (2000, also re-released along with 'Acrobatic Tenement') I never fell in love with it. The music is great of course but it’s played so stiff and bright and clinically accurate that the very essence of the band seemed to have had dissipated since the record they released before it. So the mini-album 'Vaya' (1999) documents the moment where the band got it just right to my ears. The songs are just as well written but the production is looser, ramshackle in places. It is a brilliant record that had no chance of ever selling a million copies, but it doesn’t give a shit about that. It is the sound of a band that has ridden the wave to its very heights moments before the waters break and they come crashing down. Which brings us to 'Acrobatic Tenement'(1996), the group’s debut album; it was recorded for $600 and boy does it sound like it. At the time of recording the band hadn’t really played much outside of Texas and the song writing sure doesn’t appear to reflect a group of lads that would later dominate the underground music scene some 4 years later. It is rough but not too fuzzy to dissipate the hook fuelled choruses of 'Initiation' and 'Blue Tag', the former being a footnote in the second wave of emo which fortunately gained the band kudos from Sunny Day Real Estate and early Mineral fans. I never heard this record the first time around and now that I have nothing has been added to the At the Drive-In canon of note, saying that it doesn’t take anything away from their legacy either. As an occasional fan I was hoping for something more, some insight maybe to the perfection of 'Vaya', but alas, songs such as 'Ticklish', 'Star Slight' and 'Paid Vacation Time' don’t live up to the rest of the band's discography. Now the group is on the reunion train at least we may get to see them live again, and that is a place where the band are truly masters of their craft. Until then I’ll stick with 'Vaya'.

Track Listing:-
1 Star Slight
2 Schaffino
3 Ebroglio
4 Initiation
5 Communication Drive-In
6 Skips On The Record
7 Paid Vacation Time
8 Ticklish
9 Blue Tag
10 Coating of Arms
11 Porfirio Diaz

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