The Evens Get Evens

The Evens Get Evens
Photo: The Evens
Among the most artfully emotional responses to political apathy, Get Evens finds Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina sifting through bureaucratic bullshit with hungry human hearts. Like their 2005 self-titled debut, Get Evens can be vaguely polemical though, on the surface, it’s more precise in calling out the war-mongering U.S. government for its socially corrupt behaviour. With its innovatively eclectic music and provocative lyrics, the record may be indignant but its temperament shifts from song to song. The combination of low tones emanating from MacKaye’s baritone guitar and Farina’s uniquely inventive drumming give the Evens a truly idiosyncratic sound, infusing improvised jazz techniques within familiar folk, punk and pop traditions. The record opens with two mesmerising rallying calls, each decrying the draconian techniques of the right wing. "Cut from the Cloth” is a folk-oriented expression of personal exasperation, while "Everybody Knows” is almost playful as it reclaims Washington DC from the scurrilous conduct of transient elected officials. Their voices ringing with conviction, Farina and MacKaye match the impact of a shouted lyric by harmonising together, as they do on biting songs like "No Money” and the satirical "Dinner with the President.” Clear and reactionary, Get Evens is the work of two activists formulating passionate positions into brave new sounds.

What compelled you to play baritone guitar? MacKaye: Eight or nine years ago, I was at a music store and I saw this reissued baritone guitar. I liked it and I thought it’d be kind of interesting to try it in the context of Fugazi and we actually practiced a couple times with me on it. It didn’t sound good to me loud, so I ended up just playing it around the house, mostly unplugged. When I started playing with Amy, initially I was playing regular guitar but I started missing the low end. I tried playing [baritone guitar] at a quieter volume and realised it was a versatile instrument and it compels me to do things differently in terms of song writing and singing.

"Everybody Knows” retrieves DC from George W. Bush… Certainly George Bush is a candidate for the person we might be singing to. In fact, it’s a song about living in a town that is extremely transient and is also a power base. People come into towns like Washington and try to establish themselves and at some point they run amok because it’s not their home and they’re gonna leave. They always leave. But there are some of us who are actually from here and will be here and ultimately, it’s our town. That’s something for Washingtonians to think about. (Dischord, www.dischord.com) Vish Khanna (Dischord)