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the Evans : Ian MacKaye's new band

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(from play louder):

THE EVENS

Leeds Brudenell Social Club

4th November 2004

In these grim times of post American election blues (look I know it's not my country but those neo con bastards are running the show everywhere now and we don't even get a vote), it's heartening to hear one of America's saner voices speaking out again.

Ian Mackaye the legendary Fugazi/Minor Threat mainman is doing a low key tour with his new outfit The Evens. And this is a very different affair. For a start it's a duo. There's Ian sat down(!), playing his guitar and singing. He is joined by Amy Farina, who in the mid nineties used to drum in fellow Washington DC Dischord band The Warmers with Mackaye's brother Alec.

Amy also plays the drums in The Evens. But not loudly - the drums are barely mic-ed up and the almost folksey stripped down format works really well. Without the power of Fugazi, and that amazing rhythm section, The Evens rely on intimacy and a different kind of intensity. Ian's guitar lines are the same as ever, working off drones and hooky riffs he is as inventive and imaginative as you would expect. Cradling his baritone guitar and hunching up to the mic, Ian channels his righteousness as intensely as ever, just this time the volume is turned down.

With the vocals going through the guitar amp and everything tuned down there is a special kind of intimacy to the music, and the working mens' club environment of the Leeds venue, with the seated audience and with the lights turned on, adds to this feel. Between songs Mackaye tells the truth in his plain speaking way. There is humour as well- he's a funny raconteur and there is a genuine warmth and low-key friendly vibe to the whole event.

In one tune he gets the audience to whistle along in the quiet parts, proving that there is not one person on the planet that can whistle in tune. In the next song he gets everyone to turn their mobiles back on again and let them ring out- it's a curious, almost psychedelic, sound of a hundred mobiles ringing all at once.

br> The songs are kinda like a stripped-down Fugazi. The same sort of guitar work is going on here, the same sort of imaginative use of sounds and intensity, the same sort of tight sharp riffing, the same sort of knack for coming up with catchy hooks inside the drones and feedback, the same sort of shrapnel riffola. Over the top Ian intones his lyrics in his bruised voice.

Instead of relying on rock bombast and volume, The Evens keep the intensity with their playing. This is simple, direct, almost folksy communication; this is about making the same point but without the big stick. It shouldn't work but somehow it does. They plan to release an album in January 2005 and will be back for some more gigs. Fugazi have not, repeat NOT, split up. But Ian MacKaye is still in business and in the D.U.M.B. climate of Bush Amerikkka and Blair Britain, it's heart warming that agit prop is still firing and there are still intelligent voices out there.

JOHN ROBB

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some more developments from Pitchfork

Ian MacKaye's New Band, The Evens, Finish Debut

Mid-90s alterna-rockers The Odds naturally forgotten after series of crap releases

Ryan Schreiber reports:

Fugazi's Ian MacKaye is gearing up to release a new full-length-- but not with the full-time band which brought him to prominence. Last year, he joined up with Amy Farina, the ex-drummer for post-hardcore band The Warmers, to form the duo The Evens. According to reps at Dischord, the record was recorded at reliable old Inner Ear Studios, and was produced by the duo themselves.

As could be expected from any duo, The Evens' setup is reasonably spare: Ian plays baritone guitar, Amy plays drums, and both sing-- usually together. Live, the band put their vocals through amps rather than using a P.A., and even the album was recorded without the use of overdubbing. "The whole idea is to bring it down to an intimate level," says Dischord spokesman Alec MacKaye. But they're not really... folk, are they? "Well, no. They've got some nice quiet songs and some real spirited songs. If you heard some of Ian's stuff on Instrument, it would definitely sound [familiar]. But there are things that Amy does that takes it in a different direction."

To date, the duo haven't released much material; they contributed one song titled "On the Face of It" to the Protest Records website last year, and also played a much-discussed children's song called "Vowel Movement" on an episode of the D.C.-based "punk rock kids' show" Pancake Mountain. Despite the latter song's anthemic, Fugazi-esque chorus, however, the duo seemed to be downplaying it on a recent tour: Blogger Mike F. discussed a March 30th performance on his "Yo! Mike F. Raps" website, expressing that "sadly, the band did not play 'Vowel Movement,' despite the crowd's urgings." Currently, the band have only confirmed one other date-- they're playing the sidestage at (surprise!) the upcoming Coachella Festival in May-- though a tour of the West Coast may be in the works.

Of course, you shouldn't read too much into what this new project may mean for the future of Fugazi: On Friday, Dischord Records stated on their website that the band has not broken up. "Over the years, [Fugazi] has circulated in and out of active recording and touring according to the ebb and flow of their personal lives," read the statement. "Two band members now have families with children and currently their concerns are being put above the band's. As of this moment Fugazi is not actively playing or recording but that doesn't mean the band won't become active again in a year, two or possibly never... such is life."

The label also mentioned that "Members of Fugazi have always made music outside the band and will continue to do so." Which is possibly true now more than ever: In addition to Ian MacKaye's latest outfit, drummer Brendan Canty is a member of Garland of Hours alongside Amy Domingues and Jerry Busher, and bassist Joy Lally is preparing for the April 19th of his full-length debut with his band Decahedron (formerly The Black Sea). No release date has been scheduled as yet for The Evens' debut-- in fact, reps at the label aren't even certain that Dischord will be releasing it-- but of course, we'll let you know what we know when we know it.

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