Pittsburgh Union of Record Geeks electronic

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Different Rob's Top Three of 2006

Rob is a minimalist record geek from Friendship.

This year for various reasons--mostly financial (eat it, Sallie Mae)--
I've only heard three albums that were released in 2006 in their
entirety. Not enough for a Top 20, Top Ten, or really any multiple of
five list, so instead, here are my Top Three Records of 2006.

1. The Evens- Get Evens (Dischord)

You know how in the Karate Kid, Mr. Miagi starts out teaching Daniel
how to fight by having him wash his car and paint his fence, and then
later, Daniel discovers that Mr. Miagi has really been teaching him
how to fight the whole time, because the secret to karate are the
basics moves, timing, and balance? The Evens are like Mr. Miagi. For
a rock band, they're about as stripped down as you can get: two
people- one plays drums, the other plays guitar, and they both sing.
When they tour they bring their own PA, and two light bulbs attached
to guitar stands for lights, and that's it. No keyboards, no second
guitar parts, no orchestral arrangements (really no other instruments
period), no effects pedals- they don't even have distortion on the
electric guitar.

They're quiet and unassuming but The Evens can still kick your ass.
Ian Mackaye plays a baritone guitar, which has both the low-end, bassy
sound of a umm... bass, with the melodic notes of a guitar. Amy
Farina, his partner in the Evens, plays gently, giving the drums a
crazy amount of texture. Mackaye's not yelling as much as he did in
Fugazi and Minor Threat, but the vocals still have that anthemic
quality that invites you to sing along. And the lyrics manage to be
political while still leaving room for interpretation and thinking-
a rarity these days. The Evens don't sound angry so much as very
firm (again, the Karate Kid comes to mind), something few other bands
that sing "political" songs manage to pull off. In interviews and at
shows, Mackaye has said that he's not as interested in "smashing the
state" so much as building alternatives. In other words, instead of
just getting mad, maybe we should... you know...

2. Armalite- s/t (No Idea)

Armalite's debut CD is punk rock as catchy as it gets (and fast--11
songs in under 25 minutes), with lyrics that speak to people who went
to punk and hardcore shows as teenagers, are now in our mid 20's to
30's, and are like, "well... now what?" The first song, "Entitled" is
most specifically about "the adult crash," but there are other songs
about having close friends scattered all over the East Coast, being a
parent, and voting. It's nice to be reminded that I'm not the only
one freaking out about this stuff, and there's something reassuring
about hearing it yelled over blazing fast, distorted guitars.

Interesting note about the band members--Armalite has sort of an
all-star line up from the Philly punk scene: Dan Yemin from Lifetime
and Kid Dynamite is on bass, Mike McKee, editor of the magazine
Rockpile, sings and plays guitar, and Atom Goren, of Atom and his
("his Package" being a synthesizer that he used to record
geeky, 80's new-wavy sounding songs), also sings and plays guitar, and
despite being married, the father of a two-year-old, and a high school
Physics teacher, still sounds like he's eight years old.

3. Hi Tek- Hi Teknology, Vol. 2: The Chip (Okay Player)

Actually, this one kinda sucked--but since its the only other album I
heard in 2006, here it is. It had the potential to be great--Hi Tek
produced a bunch of songs on the Black Star album, and this album has
guest appearances by some of my favorite rappers: Talib Kweli, Common,
Mos Def, Q-Tip--but I think that just made it more disappointing when
I actually heard it. There is one really good song on this one--"Where it Started At"--but everything else is just 'eh.' I'd say more about it, but I don't have it anymore- I ended up trading it in at The Exchange for a dollar and a Soul Rebels Brass Band CD. (Mini-review
from the guy working at the register: "Why do you want to return it--because it SUCKS?")


Blogger Karen said...

i saw atom and his package in orlando once. he rocks!

9:07 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home