D.C. punk duo The Evens (Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi, and Amy Farina of The Warmers) released their second album, “Get Evens” back in 2006.
Since then, Get Evens has been praised for its direct and unabashed treatment of its subject matter (the current political and cultural climate) as well as for its unembellished yet exceptionally executed musicality.
Looking back, it becomes apparent that the direct approach MacKaye and Farina took with Get Evens has made for an album that transcends current events and the “side-project” label the duo battled.
What stands out most musically on Get Evens is definitely MacKaye and Farina’s chemistry.
While Farina’s percussion takes on a more prominent role than the duo’s previous release, 2005’s self-titled The Evens, it does not overpower MacKaye’s baritone guitar.
Instead, Farina fills in the gaps, playing off MacKaye’s staccato riffs and creating a unique percussive voice rarely found in the “hit the drums hard and ask questions later” world of punk.
The easy way the MacKaye and Farina vocalize together throughout the album is a gem. Take the opening track, “Cut from the Cloth.”
The vocal interplay is reminiscent of “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart,” Against Me’s collaboration with Tegan Quinn – then you remember The Evens did it first (the Tegan and Against Me collab didn’t come out in 2008), then you realize The Evens do it better (but don’t just take my word for it).
While both MacKaye’s gravel and Farina’s light soprano foil each other, both are earnest, direct and convincing.
Lyrically, Get Evens opens with a lot of questions. In “Cut the Cloth” MacKaye wonders, “Is this my world I no longer recognize?” and “Why would they vote in favor of their own defeat?”
But that’s about as far as the pondering goes as MacKaye and Farina condemn everyone from Dubya down on Capitol Hill for the remainder of the album.
In “Everyone Knows” the duo takes on the Dubya administration’s lust for power: “You arrive with empty duffel bags, hungry eyed /You looked around taking measurements to move inside.”
In “Cache Is Empty” they take on the country’s rampant vanity: “I saw a person made of plastic ingredients/Carved and sliced and diced into/A human with no being.”
The lyrics are screamed or mumbled, just delivered with intense authenticity.
However powerful The Evens’ digs were in 2006, they are just as powerful now, and this is what has kept Get Evens so relevant.
Even after Dubya, after the ups and downs of Obama, we see Mackaye and Farina’s D.C. plagued by the same problems.
Listening to Get Evens today makes you realize it doesn’t take an army of fist pumping angry punks to indict those at the top, just a pair of mellowed out punks trying to get even.