Friday, March 18, 2005

The Evens mp3s

Fugazi’s Ian Mackaye’s latest Dischord project, the evens, is a partnership with former Warmers member Amy Farina. Their self-titled debut album, released this month, is a welcome break from all of the indie clutter we’ve been downloading for the past couple of years. It’s a shiny pebble in the manure field.

The album cover is a black and white photo of an elephant eating hay, taken, I think, at the National Zoo on Connecticut in Washington, D.C, with the album/band name in bright red times new roman. Black, white, red, elephant…Immediately one thinks of the White Stripes’ Elephant – and the mental associations begin. Both are male/female acts, artistically independent, recording minimally, with almost solely guitars and drums. The evens, though, are like a White Stripes in reverse – the guitar is a restrained baritone, the vocals are, surprisingly for Mackaye, even and controlled throughout, and the drums are wild. The statement appears to be: if you’re going to do indie, let’s let it be about the music and the message, and without the bombast. Let the elephant be an elephant.

I speculate, of course.

The top ten reasons I love this album:

10. It’s neither cute nor clever.
9. It’s cerebral.
8. It’s an album that holds sans gimmicks, not a collection of catchy singles.
7. The indie kids won't dance to it.
6. Twelve little downers. Fresh and interesting downers, though.
5. Only three songs exceed 4 minutes.
4. 10 dollars postpaid from Dischord.
3. Signed plastic wrap.
2. The drums fuck with your heartbeat when you listen to it with headphones.

And the top reason I love this album is...

1. I had a really, really hard time deciding which tracks to post.

Shelter Two is the first song on the album, and it’s hushed, simplistic beauty. You wonder what it’s about, with the singer telling us all the seemingly meaningless places he’s been today, and then the bomb: you went to Tulsa and I’m going to wait/it’s all downhill from here/we keep on climbing but we never find the top/it’s all downhill from here.

On the Face of It is sung as a duet, starts with a slow, deliberate progression of single picked guitar notes, and right in the middle of the song, you get a gorgeous cascade of lonely descending piano notes, fitting the song: while we contend with being all alone/with our hardly earned/and our bridges burned/we can count our days numbered/that’s the tragedy/of the strategy/of looking out for number one.

Evens mp3s :
Shelter two
On the face of it

Washington Post review here. Pitchfork review here.

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