If It Kills You is one of my absolute favorite bands I’ve come across in a long time. Ever since I heard their EP Infinite Hum a couple years back, I’ve been pretty damn impressed with this band. They are the perfect blend of all the things to love about the 90’s rock/post-hardcore but in today’s world.
Invisible Self is an album that deserves immediate attention. It’s an honest album that really you can hear the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. The sonic bursts of ecstasy that permeate through the speakers are beyond enjoyable as the tones and layers provide a welcoming trance that propels you through the albums nine songs. Having Jim Ward of Sparta/At The Drive In in the producers chair for the album, the members of If It Kills You took strides to make sure this was on a different level. Each instrument is soaked in an intensity that most modern bands and albums would be envious of. The passion that the four members put into this album really shows with the performances. Vocally and lyrically Justin Martin really stepped up and took things to a different dimension with some of the songs and melodies. The dual guitars of Justin Martin and Kevin Clark are superbly strong and the push pull of leads and rhythms create this awesome tension in the songs. The rhythm section of Mikee Lee and Tyler Patterson is one hell of a force to be reckoned with. I don’t want to spoil this album so I will forgo a track by track explanation. Know this though, there isn’t one song on this album that shouldn’t be there. Appearances from Shelby Cinca (Frodus), Ben Davis (Sleepytime Trio, Bats and Mice), and Bill Taylor (Songs for Snakes), violinist Jordan Belardes and Jim Ward give the songs an extra tinge of something special.
This is one of my favorite albums of the year. Every time I listen to it, I find something else to love about it. In a world full of stale and bland music and bands, If It Kills You provides that breath of fresh air. They are an inspired bunch creating music that is powerful and has depth. Invisible Self is definitely an album that fits in with 2022. As the nine songs begin to end, the moment it does, the compelling feeling to start it over is ever present. This album is only cracking the surface for the heights that If It Kills You can go.
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.
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.
1. James Hetfield- Metallica
2. Jerry Cantrell- Alice In Chains
3. Clint Lowery- Sevendust
4. Stephen Brodsky- Cave In
5. Ken Andrews- Failure
6. Scott Kelly- Neurosis
7. Eric Clapton
8. John Fogerty- Creedence Clearwater Revival
9. Dave Grohl- Foo Fighters
10. Neil Young
11. Chris Cornell- Soundgarden
12. Kurt Cobain- Nirvana
13. Brian Molko- Placebo
14. Josh Homme- Queens Of The Stone Age
15. Jimi Hendrix
16: Jim Ward- Sparta
17. Lou Reed
18. Billy Corgan- Smashing Pumpkins
19. Matt Talbott- Hum