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The Evens

The Evens

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Album Review

With the hiatus of Fugazi, lead singer Ian MacKaye found himself with some spare time and decided to make a left turn stylistically into stripped-down pop, or at least music as poppy as a post-punk pioneer can get. Collaborating with Warmers alum Amy Farina, MacKaye went into the studio with longtime Dischord resident engineer Don Zientara during the summer of 2004, a time ripe with political tension, discourse, and a hotly contested presidential election campaign. The fire, discontent, and mistrust of systems political and otherwise that were the hallmark of MacKaye's nearly two-decade tenure as dean of D.C. anger remain firmly entrenched in the Evens' carefully crafted 12-song eponymous debut. But in place of his trademark growl and yell, which could lift the strongest of houses off its foundation, MacKaye provides quiet, contemplative harmonies only hinted at briefly in latter-day Fugazi material (check "I'm So Tired" from Instrument and "Pink Frosty" on End Hits for solid reference points) to reinforce the somber sobriety and dire exasperation of his political frustrations. The lyrics are some of the most straightforward and politically caustic of MacKaye's career, packing a punch equal to some of his most visceral moments in Minor Threat. But that's not to shine the spotlight solely on MacKaye, for the group would be a half-hearted solo project if it weren't for Farina's velvet harmonies, her call-and-response interplay with MacKaye that dominates the album, and her sharing of lead vocal duties. MacKaye often used the quiet and low volumes of Fugazi to carry just as much weight as the loud and harsh, and over the decade honed the practice to near perfection. This practice is not the exception but the norm; this is in no small part due to Farina's exceptional percussion skills. She never overplays and calls only for what the compositions need, accentuating empty spaces and providing a heavy weight that even the most piercing wall of noise and feedback couldn't accomplish. It might not be the long-overdue Fugazi album that the most vigilant of chain wallet-carrying fanboys and aging alterna-teens were looking for, and that's a good thing. Most of these songs could never have bloomed to full fruition under the tight quality control of four people. With this project, MacKaye is free to swim in personally uncharted musical waters, and has the ideal swimming buddy along for the ride. The Evens is not just a step forward in the creative careers of MacKaye and Farina; it's a major leap.

Customer Reviews

Amazing.

This really hits the spot... It's almost like hearing some early R.E.M. for the first time... this album's got great songwriting and an energy: it's passionate, unhindered and pure. It even has some of the same subtle rockitude that was on the Argument. It's really great. Check out 'All These Governors' and 'Blessed Not Lucky'.

Oh Lordy

This album was BRILLIANT. The Evens are friggin incredible. Like others have said, not the usual Ian MacKaye, but you can expect the Fugazi-esque creativity in every song. Buy it, you'll thank me. The new album should be out fairly soon as well.

great artists make great art

if you're expecting minor threat, fugazi, or pailhead, you're not going to get it here. if you're expecting the warmers, you're not going to get that either. here ian mackaye and amy farina create something completely new, with an energy of it's own. the sound of the evens is very stripped down, though some of the parts are complex, especially considering these are just two people. farina's drums are very distinct and are a big part of what defines the evens' sound. ian's guitar, which is a baritone for at least some of the songs, has the trademark rhythm that we've come to expect from him, but stands out much more than with his other bands, and when he catches fire, the energy is contagious. there are a lot of melodies hidden in these songs, and many quiet moments of introspection, and then their are moments when you can't help but be moved by the music. i saw the evens live in a small art gallery type venue (the nocturnal) in portland, oregon and it was the perfect place for this music. there was no separation between crowd and band. we were all there together, and it felt good. one of the best records of 2005.

Biography

Formed: 2001 in Washington DC

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed in the autumn of 2001, the Evens — Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Embrace, Fugazi) on baritone guitar and vocals and Amy Farina of the Warmers on drums and vocals — released their self-titled debut on Dischord in the spring of 2005. With a more laid-back sound than MacKaye's earlier work (outside of some tracks on Fugazi's 1999 Instrument soundtrack) and a somewhat less angular approach than the Warmers, the Evens honed their hard-to-nail-down atmospheric folk-esque sound through extensive...
Full Bio
The Evens, The Evens
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