You Won't Feel A Thing (mp3) - The EvensAll These Governors (follow link) - The EvensIt's hard to make overtly political music work on any kind of artistic level. For every "Masters Of War" or "A Change Is Gonna Come," there are thousands of earnest, cringe-worthy songs that have rightly been consigned to the dust heap of history.Punk's track record is little better than that of the 60s folkies. A band like Fugazi has succeeded despite Ian MacKaye, et al's heavy-handed rants against the government, the police and corporate America. (Give me that masterpiece of irony, The Jam's "That's Entertainment," any day.) MacKaye's new musical partner in The Evens, Amy Farina, comes from the same sledgehammer-to-the head tradition. Her former band, The Warmers--a mid-90s Dischord trio that included MacKaye's brother Alec--were, if anything, worse. Just get a load of "Mad At The Man" below. So though I knew I'd love them musically, I approached The Evens with trepidation, only picking up their debut album a week ago. Good timing. After witnessing the New Orleans debacle this past week righteous indignation seems like the only appropriate response to the criminal inaction of our federal government and local authorities. MacKaye and Farina sing "When things should work but don't work/That's the work of all these governors," or "they'll beat you with the truth so you won't feel the lies . . . until the day you wake up" it's hard not to agree.
But even if we weren't in the midst of a national crisis, The Evens offer very effective, and yes, aesthetically pleasing, music. Neither of this duo would make the cut on American Idol, but the gruff rumble of MacKaye and the brassiness of Farina actually dovetail nicely in close harmonies. They sound like they've been singing together for years. MacKaye's baritone guitar playing is--no shock here--solid. And Farina's elegant, complex-patterned drumming is arresting. In fact, I can't remember the last time I paid such close attention to drumming technique. But it's the songwriting that carries the record and has put it on constant rotation for me.
Click here to download "Red Light Runner" and "Mad At The Man" by The Warmers. (Follow the links that say "hear a song.")