In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re highlighting some of our favorite drum tracks of all time.
The Jazz June, “Viva La Speed Metal” (2000)
This year was a busy one for The Jazz June, with the band reuniting after years of silence for a new album and also having its cult classic album The Medicine pressed on vinyl for the first time. The Medicine has always been a favorite of mine, and a big reason it works is because of the drum part that opens “Viva La Speed Metal.” A couple years earlier, another emo act–Illinois’ Braid–employed a similar tactic, opening Frame & Canvas with an acrobatic fill that set the tone for everything that would follow. “Viva La Speed Metal” is equally effective, even if it only puts the drummer in the spotlight for a few measly seconds.
When the band comes crashing in after these quick strokes, the guitars spill over one another, leading the song in different directions, but it’s the fluttering drum fills running underneath that keep it all together. For me, this is a big part of what makes The Medicine an unheralded classic. When it was released in 2000 emo was at a nexus point, with its years as a post-hardcore inspired underground movement nearly over, and a new era of of watered-down, mainstream acceptance just around the corner, and The Medicine exists between these two points. The album offers enough melodic structures to warrant sing-alongs, but the band’s still inclined to shift between time signatures whenever the opportunity presents itself. This makes The Medicine the type of album that will either be embraced or dismissed in its first 15 seconds; Thankfully, it only takes four of them to hear one of the best drum fills to ever open an album.