The Evens The Evens

[Dischord; 2005]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: minimal post-punk
Others: Fugazi, The Warmers

As a consequence of growing up playing the guitar, the percussive arts are often a little lost on me. For me, drums tend to work on an almost subconscious level, that is to say, I only take notice if a drummer has a particular disdain for a backbeat, or if a post-rock drummer decides to pound the hell out of the cymbals during the "climax" (which, luckily, happens every time). As a result, a duo like The Evens gives me ample opportunity to take notice of some truly fantastic drumming. With only two instruments in the mix, not paying attention to the drums would be a lot like going to a movie and only looking at the right half of the screen. This struck me particularly on "Around the Corner," the second track of The Evens' self-titled debut, when the drums carry the structure of the song in a way I'm not usually familiar with (or at least cognizant of).

While the Evens' sparse arrangements may lead the guitar-playing world to finally give drummers their due, an album that is too minimal runs the risk of being absorbed in too few listens, never to be returned to again. Of course, The Evens avoid that trap by going straight to the most obvious musical cliché, "excellent songwriting." This leaves the problem, then, of how to describe said songwriting in the context of eleven remarkably diverse songs. To give you the basics though, the barely distorted baritone guitar kicks out the riffs while playing a game of stop, start, and groove with some moderately "angular" drumming. While this may sound a bit alienating, The Evens aren't afraid, and in fact are more than willing, to break out into gorgeous boy/girl harmonies. In fact, it is the vocals that make the album truly shine. Not that there is any particularly riveting crooning, rather, fantastic melodies intertwine in surprising ways with the instrumentation. So, do me a favor... no, do yourself a favor, buddy, and check out the new Evens album. (Would it help if I told you that Ian McKaye and Amy Farina are in the band?)

1. Shelter Two
2. Around The Corner
3. All These Governors
4. Crude Bomb
5. Sara Lee
6. Mt. Pleasant Isn't
7. Blessed Not Lucky
8. If It's Water
9. Until They're Clear
10. On The Face Of It
11. Minding Ones Business
12. You Won't Feel A Thing