Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fugazi's latest branch in the family tree...

The Evens
Get Evens
Released 11.7.06

Rating: 4 out of 4

Fugazi is one of those bands that I’m thankful to have heard as a teenager. As I type this, I can remember that first piercing riff spill out of my skater buddy’s boombox within seconds after throwing in In On The Kill Taker, the Fugazi tape that I had purchased earlier that day, and exclaiming “YES!” once that tape’s promise had been delivered. I still have that tape. It takes up a small space in my CD tower, living its existence as an enlightening memento of my youth.

The second I’d heard “Around the Corner,” the second track on The Evens self-titled debut, I knew Ian MacKaye’s post-Fugazi career would be worth paying attention to. No longer loud, but no less affecting, MacKaye and ex-Warmer Amy Farina are either this millennium’s answer to the protest band or a slightly rugged return to hippy folk. It’s hard to imagine that MacKaye was once in a band that belted out a quote so memorable as, “The only good deadhead is one that’s dead…SO DON’T STICK AROUND TOO LONG!!!”

Since his days in the Teen Idles, (from whom you can find the above quote), MacKaye has screamed his way through the self-inflicted perils of being too cool for drugs (Minor Threat) and then later poetically merged garage and post-punk (Fugazi) into something the sensitive kiddies ripped off and dubbed “emo.” The Evens are his latest foray into something musical and whether or not a movement will come out of it is anybody’s guess. And what would you call it anyway? Hippycore? He may possibly be the only punk rocker that’s managed to age gracefully, and The Evens are a testament to that…whether they want to be or not.

Get Evens, their second album in two years, is a beautifully minimal and melodic slice of indy heaven, minus the hip, bespectacled snot that goes along with being “indy.” MacKaye and Farina fuse together a string and drum combo that’s aggressive enough to wear its hardcore roots proudly, but also introspective and mellow enough to grow creatively. And they have. Get Evens shows a definite growth in songwriting and chemistry from The Evens’ debut, proof that this is more than just a side project or something to pass the time.

“Cut From The Cloth,” Get Evens’s first track, starts the album off with a dirge for humanity:

”How do people sleep amidst the slaughter/
Why would they vote in favor of…their own defeat?”

Typically something like “Cut From The Cloth” would be something to throw in later, but it starts things off perfectly. From its slow and seemingly sorrowful being, The Evens build on it progressively adding aggression with “Everybody Knows” and “You Fell Down” but also expanding with the laid back funk of “Cache is Empty.” Farina’s voice is something to treasure. It has melody, but still maintains an almost riot grrrl air of dissatisfaction and attitude. And her drumming is awesome. She experiments with tempo and percussion, never taking any attention away from MacKaye’s rocking guitar strums but adding a lot of dimension to their two-piece presentation.

“Pushed Against The Wall,” the first crown jewel of the album, was one track that I had to play over and over again. Farina’s melodies, particularly at the last thirty seconds of the song, are the reason I fell in love with this song. Plus, she manages to beautifully sing, “Ruins wastage refuse trifle debris.” I guess there’s something to be said for respecting garbage enough to list it beautifully.

“No Money,” a syncopated rocker that jumps into a slow moving rumba, provides an equal singing platform for both MacKaye and Farina. “All You Find You Keep” slows up the pace and then “Eventually,” a playful bass/drum jam, really brings out Farina’s voice.

“Get Evens,” obviously the album’s title track, heightens the tempo and then the album’s closing track, “Dinner With The President,” begs to ask the question, “Why won’t this invitation come?” DC being their home base, The Evens take it upon themselves to take a stab at the PreZZZ and make an observation for the ages:

”…Maybe power lies in inaccessibility/
Power lies…”

Poetry…sheer poetry.

Get Evens is a great album and, above everything else, timely. MacKaye has once again found a sound worth delivering to the privileged masses and, with Farina in tow, I’m hoping that they continue to commit music like this to CD. With Fugazi possibly silenced forever, it’ll be nice to have something else to fill the void.

And, as I type this, I can enjoy those not-so piercing riffs spilling out of my stereo within seconds after throwing in Get Evens.

Letters From A Tapehead

2007: The Year We Keep Contact...

To my fellow Tapeheads,

So, 2006 is coming to a close.

I managed to pick up a lot of great records this year, though I unfortunately did not get to review them all. What can I say? I got married, went to Europe and turned 30 in the space of two months. Add on holiday shopping and you have one very exhausted, self-appointed music critic. But, because of that, I'm currently working on my final reviews for 2006 (I think I'm going to try and get two done) and an end-of-the-year rundown of everything I picked up. I want to make sure that whatever I didn't get to write about in my usual over-blown observations gets a little ink. I'm going to annotate any non-reviewed entry with a little blurb and a rating. It's quite an undertaking, but it should be an informative read.

I'm not really sure what 2007 has in store as far as new tunes. I do know that the mighty Queens of the Stone Age will be committing themselves to wax some time this year. I also heard that Tomahawk will be finally putting a new album out. Otherwise, I'll be as surprised as you are. Let's hope it's a good year.

In the meantime, uncork the champagne, and keep those headphones on.

Happy New Year,
Letters From A Tapehead

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