Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February 10: The Evens, "Get Evens"

Artist: The Evens
Album: Get Evens
Year: 2006
Label: Dischord

Ian MacKaye is a freaking genius! Whether it’s Fugazi, Minor Threat, running Dischord Records the way he has over the past 3 decades, or standing up for that which is right, Ian MacKaye is THE MAN! In 2001, Ian teamed up with former Warmers drummer Amy Farina and the pair released their self titled debut as The Evens. Music lovers around the world rejoiced! Their sophomore effort, Get Evens, took their simple, scaled back approach, and perfected it.

When there are only two members in a band, it is quite difficult to really "scale back" the sound or production. However, by comparing The Evens' two albums, it is clear that the duo did indeed find a way to be more basic in their music. Get Evens was recorded over a few quick sessions and released months later. The speedy recording process left no time for overdubs or additional instruments, and the result is a very pure, organic feeling throughout the album.

Get Evens is so natural in its mood that the limited instrumentation and vocals create a sublimely intimate atmosphere for the listener. The unembellished sound of Ian’s baritone guitar and Amy on drums provides a perfect musical vehicle for their songs of cynicism and protest. Ian and Amy's voices effortlessly blend together and form a simple, yet lush, landscape over and around the intelligently simply music. While the music and lyrics coalesce in magnificent fashion, there is enough space for each instrument and both vocalists to stand out as individuals.

Along with the superb lyrics and music, one cannot ignore the fact that Get Evens is a brilliant protest record. Nearly every song challenges the dominant paradigm of the United States. Covering subjects from unemployment to the violations of civil liberties, the record is an all out declaration of war against the status quo of our society. The Evens leave little to subtlety with outright lyrical onslaughts on songs like "Everybody Knows" and "All You Find You Keep." The album’s final track, "Dinner With The President," is a masterful poke at everyone’s favorite fool. Questioning why he can’t get a meeting with "Dubbya," MacKaye quips, “…available, but they’re not calling me…I live in town, it’s not geography…”

Going against the stream both lyrically as well as the overall approach to the music defines what The Evens are as a band. Guitar, drums, vocals; that's all you need for music. The Evens take this minimal instrumentation and inject it with attitude and super-smart lyrics. The record is stellar from start to finish and one can only assume (and hope) that a band with this much to say won't be out of the studio for long. To put it simply, Get Evens confirms that often times, simpler is better.

Standout tracks: "Cut From The Cloth," "You Fell Down," and "Dinner With The President."

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