Tuesday, November 18, 2014

REVIEW: The Young Evils - False Starts EP

The Young Evils are on an interesting musical journey, from founding members Troy Nelson and Mackenzie Mercer meeting at Seattle's Easy Street Records and starting the band, to their debut garage folk rock LP Enchanted Chapel, to their darker Foreign Spells EP, to the latest record, the six song False Starts EP.  And as you may guess from the title, there is a lot more between the points on the bare timeline I provided.  For example, Troy and Mackenzie became a couple early in the band's history, and now are married.  For another, their career arc took them on an overseas tour, and appearance at SxSW, and a deal with the arm of a major label.  Said arc also led to the mutual realization that the big label platform wasn't going to work for The Young Evils.  So armed with tracks recorded at Sound City Studios in LA and The Kill Room in Seattle, they begin again - a fresh start after a false start, if you will.  But one thing that has remained true through the journey, and the style changes from The Vaselines-flavored male-female band to The Ravonettes-inspired dark guitar pop to the current indie rock, is the emphasis on good songwriting and sincere performances.

The line-up now includes Michael Lee on guitar, and brothers Brendon and Scott Helgason as the rhythm section.  The songs are energetic, for the most part noisy, and packed with vivid imagery.  Opening track "Renegades" begins with buzzing guitar, pounding drums and driving bass, with Troy and Mac singing over the top.  The song builds, and Lee assaults your ears with slashing riffs.  If you only knew of The Young Evils from Enchanted Chapel, your expectations have been reset.  This is a rock band.

The following "Get Your Guns" features Mac's vocals over a percussive rhythm.  "Twisted Heart" is very nearly a pop song, riding a snaky beat and muscular guitar, and reminds me a bit of Fleetwood Mac just as they were beginning to take off.  On "It Happens All the Time", The Young Evils knocks out what may become your favorite new driving song featuring notable alternating vocals from Mac and Troy.  "Another Tragedy" sees Troy and Mac singing in unison.  With a well conceived melody, it may be the most accessible song of a strong set.  The closing track, "House of Lies", stands out in a couple of respects.  First, it is the only truly slow song on the record.  Second, while Mac is a rock vocalist rather than a balladeer (at least in my opinion), I think that her performance outside of her comfort zone is exceptionally affecting and completely charming, and the duet portions with Troy and Velvet Underground inspired backing from the band make it well worth your time.

False Starts EP is available on iTunes, but you can stream and buy it from the band on Bandcamp, which is linked below.


No comments: