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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
The Evens
The Evens
Dischord Records

Rating: 9/10 ?


April 8, 2005
The Evens have garnered a good share of attention due to their notable male half: Ian MacKaye has made more than a name for himself through his involvement in hardcore stalwarts Minor Threat and post-punk heavyweights Fugazi, as well as his creation of the fiercely independent Dischord Records. However, while he is involved in this delicate pop combo, it is Amy Farina of the Warmers that puts in the standout performance on the Evens self-titled debut.

The Evens play quiet yet urgent pop, MacKaye on baritone guitar and Farina behind the drum kit, with both sharing vocal duties. With no more instrumentation than just listed, the intimacy found on The Evens give the album a folksy feel; but don't be fooled - there is just as much Fugazi present as there is soft, jangly pop. Farina and MacKaye take on socially charged issues on The Evens, from the government's involvement in everyday life on "All These Governors" to the failed politics of Mount Pleasant in "Mt. Pleasant Isn't".

There is a torrid undercurrent that flows throughout the album. Farina keeps the pace quick with her intricate and frantic drum work, which stands out throughout the thirty-seven minutes of The Evens. Using mostly brushes, Farina's levels remain low, but do not filter out her ability or her fire. Pulling double duty Farina also turns in an excellent vocal performance singing most of the leads. Farina's delicate voice weaves in and out of the guitar and drum parts, shining through at times and getting lost amongst the music at others.

MacKaye's voice is remarkably good at a lower level - when he isn't screaming. His baritone guitar work, although folksy at times, sounds somewhat like Fugazi in its rhythms and leads. Even some of the almost-chanted choruses, as MacKaye raises his voice, sound reminiscent of his predominant band. The Evens sound like tight DeSoto Records pop material as much as brash Dischord punk. This marriage of two dissimilar styles makes The Evens such a remarkable record.

"Around the Corner" finds MacKaye playing staccato chord progressions while Farina's drums fill in the holes. It is amazing how full MacKaye and Farina can make a guitar and drum set sound. Farina sings the verses and shares choruses with MacKaye as they bounce lines off of one another. While "Around the Corner" is a somber song of hope, "All These Governors" is an upbeat protest song where MacKaye sings, "When things should work, but don't/that's the work of all these governors." "Sara Lee" is the slowest offering; a song tribute to a dying friend. MacKaye quietly sings, "Not necessarily the only way to navigate this empty field/Please take your time from mine." "If It's Water" is a pulsating punk inspired tune that starts out, "True, even doesn't mean the same as equal," Farina's urgent drumming and MacKaye's quick repetitive chord work whisks the song right along through MacKaye's disconnected lyrics of disillusion.

While The Evens will be getting attention simply by the name recognition of Ian MacKaye, praise is more deserved due to the intelligent songwriting that prevails through The Evens. Amy Farina and MacKaye have created a delicate and beautiful masterpiece that transcends their punk and post-punk routes. The sparse instrumentation and barely audible vocals fill the speakers with emotion and passion, making The Evens a release to come back to, happily and often.

Reviewed by Craig Mertes
Craig lives, works and listens to music in the general vicinity of Orlando, Florida, where he absorbs everything from hip-hop to indie, pop, rock, punk and metal. His all time favs include Hum, Clutch, Dismemberment Plan, and the Reverend Horton Heat. The last we heard, Craig was spinning Vast Aire, Soul Position, Blues Explosion, Motörhead, the Blood Brothers and Dead Meadow. Craig is also a life-long, die-hard Cubs fan, so lay off.

See other reviews by Craig Mertes

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