Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Evens record that ran in Hot Press a few issues ago.
The Odds (Dischord)
Key Track: ‘Warble Factor’
EX-MINOR THREAT/FUGAZI LEGEND STILL BATTLING AGAINST THE ODDS.
In the world of outsider music, few figures loom larger than Ian MacKaye. After defining the American hardcore punk rock scene with the legendary Minor Threat (and giving birth to the Straight Edge sub-culture), the musician then formed the utterly seminal Fugazi in 1987 and up until their “indefinite hiatus” in 2003 he was pretty much the poster boy for D.I.Y. culture. As well as all that, he even co-created what was considered “real” emo in the late 80s with his band Embrace (two decades before the term was perverted in the press by lazy journalists who used the word to describe manscara-ed screamy pretty boys) and also offered a guiding hand to the riot grrrl scene too. In short, no-one would blame MacKaye if packed it all in tomorrow to live in a cabin in the woods as his legacy is assured.
But that was never his way and this issue he continues to reinvent himself with the help of former member of the Warmers Amy Farina under the Evens moniker. The Odds is their third LP and it carries on in a similar vein as their previous two records, with the real life couple trading vocal duties which are scored by Ian’s baritone guitar and Amy’s drums. A relatively restrained and melodic release (by their standards anyway), the lyrics deal with what it’s like to be a middle aged punk and Farina’s vocals are especially good on the album, calling to mind early Polly Harvey mixed with the spiky-ness of Sleater Kinney (‘Warble Factor’). There are plenty of highlights on the record and the likes of the almost poppy, hook-laden ‘King Of Kings’ and the (slightly) jazzy ‘Competing With The Till’ are definite stand-outs and the latter is a welcome walk on the weird side.
While there’s no doubt that some will miss the righteous fury of old, MacKaye fanatics and general fans of lo-fi folk rock will adore the latest installment in what has been a fascinating career to date.