At The Drive-In - This Station Is Non-Operational (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

At The Drive-In

This Station Is Non-Operational (2005)


One of the most prevalent, opinionated arguments when it comes to music is the prejudiced teeter-totter whether if a band should fade away into the dusty bins at used record stores or go out on top leaving their fans craving more. Some listeners have no quandary in continually listening to rehashed material from better days in the careers of musicians. For example, pop-rockers Weezer devoured a five-year absence with their comeback "Green Album," although its sales were every bit as upbeat as the catchy singles, most agree the record and its predecessors do not hold up to legendary releases the "Blue Album" and Pinkerton. On the other side of the park, audiophiles bathe in the ideology that accompany timely exists, cementing the impact from the music forever into whatever history it may hold. Refused, Jawbreaker, and Kid Dynamite are a few modern acts that fit the end description, and while many yearn for reunion tours, fans can confidently assure themselves those renowned images will not be tarnished. In favor of El Paso, Texas' post-punk quintet At The Drive-In, it is particularly the latter, abruptly fracturing their vocation on the heals of their zenith release, with mainstream success overly imminent. By now, every ear as heard the story of how Sparta and the Mars Volta have formed polar opposites of each other's resonance and implement their paramount to carry on the ATDI crown.

Within only four years of their termination, the group has readied the customary disc that glimpses back into all areas of their storied past. This compilation is not another monotonous greatest hits collection. Instead, the track-listing to This Station Is Non-Operational reflects an omnibus of 18 career-spanning songs selected by the former members of the band themselves. The anthology narrates in a chronological fashion, from the early El Gran Orgo EP to the storied Relationship Of Command, concluded by a set of interesting rare and unreleased matter. "Fahrenheit" and "Picket Fence Cartel" emphasize the earlier moments with a sound easily formed in the essence of when the term "emo" meant more post-hardcore than cute haircuts. These primitive instances, including four songs from the pivotal in/CASINO/OUT, enlighten a young band who, while still struggling to find their niche in the industry, are every bit as memorable and musically firm as they currently reside in current projects.

1999's Vaya EP is habitually credited as the monumental check point for ATDI fully crafting the sound they would be acknowledged for over their seven-year existence. "Metronome Arthritis" and "198d" emphasize the slower, passed spastic qualities contained in the guitars and Bixler's unique vocal traits. Complaints are sure to fire as the guitars that roared Relationship Of Command's introductory "Arc Arsenal," because along with other fan favorites "Pattern Against User" and "Invalid Letter Department," they are not showcased. Aside from the obvious inclusion of the single, "One Armed Scissor," the colossal release on the defunct Grand Royal records is met by "Enfilade;" the distinctive song fully highlights what each member of the band was individually capable of. The last representative of readily available recordings is one of ATDI's more interesting and diverse musical offerings, "Non-Zero Possibility," mastering what in/CASINO/OUT and Vaya hinted at.

The most attractive aspect of This Station Is Non-Operational would be its three idiosyncratic and previously unreleased B-sides, covers, a remix, and a live recording. The Latch Bros. rendition of "Rascuache" hints at what the afro-laden Cedric and Omar's side project, the dub-based Defacto, were capable of. One might not consider the Smith's material as a prime basis for an ATDI cover, however "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" does see an interesting upgrade with their CRUNCHING guitars and Bixler's unique WAIL. On the other side of the spectrum, "Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk" by Pink Floyd bodes well with their prog-rock tendencies. Footnoting their phenomenal career B-sides is "Incetardis" from the One Armed Scissor single along with "Doorman's Placebo" and "Autorelocator" from two rare splits appear. Of all the additional songs, no other stands out quite like "Inititiation," taken from a live recording at the BBC in London (originally recorded on their debut Acrobatic Tenement); musically, it is simple like their other, initial songs, but with Cedric again stunning all, this time in a rare instance of actually singing.

There is a sensational trail of hype that follows At The Drive-In as well as their former members. Influentially, musicians are storming in the droves proudly paying homage to the group or blatantly ripping them off. Music enthusiasts scour eBay for rare ATDI merchandise and memorabilia that is sure to drain their wallets. Topping it off, the Internet is chalk-full of message boards bickering back in forth about Sparta and the Mars Volta. This Station Is Non-Operational is the perfect reflection of a renowned career that puts all of the aforementioned squabble aside, permitting their fans one long last look into they remarkable eye that is At The Drive-In.