The CD cover features a lot of depressed-looking people walking down a New York street; upon opening the jewel case, one is confronted with a plush monkey sitting on an American flag while cozying up to a bottle of Jack Daniels. Keen and cutting social commentary, or just a concept that seemed funny at the time? There are no easy answers on this EP from four-piece Orlando band Even Them, but it raises plenty of curious questions.
“Number One” begins with a laid-back bass riff that repeats over a deceptively simple drum beat and bits of guitar feedback that waft in and out like some sort of aural boogeyman. Lead vocalist and lyricist Carmine lays down an understated melody over this before turning into a wildcat during the sudden blast of chorus. Lead guitarist Jerry Paulson trips through a decent solo during the break and throughout, there’s a simplicity of structure with a slight dose of Nirvana-esque angst and fury. A delicious mixture of guitar harmonics and a whimsical finger-picked lead line opens up “Alone” which then surfs into a blast of southern-fried static for a brief moment before settling into a curly mod Lloyd Paxton Show Riff. Bill Warren keeps the cymbals flailing as Carmine sings “life’s just a contest to see how far you can get.” Bassist Mike Dannhardt keeps things interesting in the basement, finding neatly loopy ways to attack the same phrase. Nice slammin’ rock there boys.
“Virus & a Liar” is preceded by a hysterical answering message regarding a proposed show booking where the caller tells them in no uncertain terms “you guys ain’t shit.” After this bit of voyeurism, the song kicks in with a surf-punk fury — which made me want to skate. Couldn’t figure out what the song meant, but if I had a board — man, if I had a board. “Destiny” is filled with chimey guitars and a laid-back groove. Here, Carmine seems to be talking to himself — the amblin’, scamblin’, ramblin’ words fall out of his mouth with sweet backing vocals adding flavor. Gotta love a rock band who knows how to arrange harmonies, this was a trippy and moody nugget of semi-calm to stumble upon.
Though it starts with a grungy swing, “My Homicide” could be mistaken for a Doors-cover once it kicks into its main verse. A good thrashy rocker to close the offering. Lyrics like “I understand how it feels, it feels so good to be wanted,” are cryptic allusions to hidden stories hinted at during this five-song EP. What are these guys about and what is their deal? With a competent production and tight arrangements — the next outing should be a revelation. Even Them, 1211 Grayson Drive, Orlando, FL 32825