There is no denying the magnitude that At The Drive In brought to the table in terms of live shows and albums. Their breakthrough album, Relationship Of Command was a much needed kick in the face when it came out. I still remember the first time I put the CD on and the moment the first song was just starting, I had a feeling this was going to be awesome and then “ARCARSENAL” hits and it was all over from there. What a song to kick off an album and live show. The force and power in this song is undeniable. This song is truly one of the best songs to kick off an album. I had the pleasure many years ago, think it was 2000 or 2001, before they broke up to see At The Drive In and what a show it was. They started their set with “Arcarsenal” and from there IT WAS ON! Everything about this song is perfect.
Arcarsenal (Album Version):
Arcarsenal (Live At The Glass House- I was at this show!):
Ever since I heard Wiretap Scars by Sparta, I’ve been hooked. As much as I dug on At The Drive-In, I loved Sparta more. Well, now Sparta is back and getting ready to release a new album, Trust The River (to be released April 10). The first song released, “Believe” is quite an uplifting and promising song. It sort of has a vibe that harks back to their second album Porcelain. Either way, I’m stoked on having a new Sparta album and tour dates as well! 2020 is sure shaping up to be a pretty damn good year for new albums already.
Sparta Tour Dates:
04/23 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
04/24 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
04/25 San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
04/29 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
04/30 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
05/01 Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
05/02 Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle
05/03 Somerville, MA – ONCE Ballroom
Back in 2002, following the demise of At The Drive In, Sparta (made up of 3 of the members of ATDI) released their debut album, Wiretap Scars, and it left a lasting impact on me. From the moment I heard the first single, “Cut Your Ribbon,” I knew that this band was on to something and it was pretty great. When the album came out, I remember blasting “Cut Your Ribbon” on repeat quite a few times before I let the album play, and then that’s when it all changed. The second song on the album “Air,” was it for me. I couldn’t get past how truly great of a song it was and from that point, it never left my mind. It’s one of those songs that makes it to every long playlist I make as well as when I used to make mixes for people. When you listen to “Air” you get all sorts of feels pumping through your blood. So, take 4 minutes out of your day and let this one take you away.
Back in 2000, while riding high on their acclaimed album Relationship Of Command, At The Drive In was the musical guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. This performance of their seminal classic “One Armed Scissor” was fantastic. I remember watching it that evening and thinking that this band was really something awesome. Back then, At The Drive In were one of the best live bands in the world. They had the complete package, the songs, the live show and the energy. This is still one of the coolest performances on late night TV to this day, in my opinion.
At The Drive In- One Armed Scissor (on Late Night with Conan O’Brien 2000):
There seems to be a river of inspiration flowing in Los Angeles. Over the past few years, the bands that have been making an impact in Los Angeles are something to really pay attention to. One such band is New Language. Formed in Los Angeles by Tyler Demorest and Matt Cohen, this band is rounded out by Sebastien Betley and Martin Dovali. New Language has a sound that combines the 90’s quiet to loud with a post hardcore vibe. Think if Failure and Sparta had a child. Their full length album Come Alive was produced by At The Drive In and Sparta drummer Tony Hajjar. The 10 songs on their album are rockin and full of life. Songs like “Wake Up,” “Right Now,” “Frantic Behavior,” and the title track “Come Alive” are perfect examples of why New Language needs to be on your radar.
One of my favorite things to do is take a day and listen through a bands entire catalog. Yesterday, I was looking for something to listen to and out of the corner of my eye I saw my Sparta collection. So naturally I grabbed all three albums loaded them up in the stereo and proceeded to emerse myself in Sparta’s catalog. Their first album Wiretap Scars has already been established here on Audioeclectica as an unsung masterpiece. Their second album Porcelain is a somber album that takes a little while to really get into. But the album that really wound up striking a chord with me was Threes.
All the songs on this album present a refreshing sense of the band. Vocalist Jim Ward admits he was heavily influenced by Radiohead recording Threes. In the softer parts of the songs you can hear Thom Yorke in the vocals. Whatever it is he is singing, it’s always very passionate. One thing I noticed about Threes is the atmosphere of the album. It’s not the ambience that made Wiretap Scars special, but instead it brings out a new kind of ambience full of gloominess, suffering and other emotional pain. Songs like “Untreatable Disease,” “Crawl,” “Unstitch Your Mouth,” “Erase It Again,” and “The Most Vicious Crime,” all fall into that solemn category. The first single “Taking Back Control,” is a classic heavy song for Sparta. Other stand out tracks include “Atlas,” “False Start,” “Red.Right.Return,” and closing track “Translations.”
If there is one critique about the album as a whole is that the production is a little too slick. In a way you can tell that the producer tried to expand upon the production sound that helped to make Wiretap Scars sound so good, but used too much compression. Sparta would go on to take a very long break after Threes. They reunited in 2012 for a short tour and also released a new song called “Chemical Feel,” which is equal parts Wiretap era and Threes. Sparta, while only having three albums, really left a quiet mark on the times of the early 2000’s expansion of post-hardcore. I really feel like they still have enough in them for one more solid album. Granted that will all have to come after this current At The Drive-In reunion. So take a listen to Sparta’s Threes and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.
The early 2000’s were full of so many bands and genres. One genre that really began to take off at this point was post-hardcore. Following the break up of one of the most exciting bands to come around in years, At The Drive In, members Jim Ward, Paul Hinojos, and Tony Hajjar formed Sparta. In 2002 Sparta released their debut album Wiretap Scars. The album brought well-earned respect and relieved some of the pressure brought on by the shadow of At the Drive-In. Opening the album is “Cut Your Ribbon” an explosive rock song that stuck true to the bands roots. “Air” is my all time favorite track on the album. Other tracks such as “Cataract”, “Glasshouse Tarot” and “Mye” are full of emotion and expansive melody. Jim Ward’s vocals really captivate those listening. His delivery makes his words really stand out. The music of Sparta packs enough of a crunch to really drive home the heavy parts, and at the same time can shift to a more subtle approach to highlight the more melodic parts. Wiretap Scars is one of the best albums to come out since the beginning of the 2000’s. It’s one that deserves to be in every collection.