Sunday, May 1, 2011

Evol Lived

This is the second in a continuing series of  reviews from My Space Music, the local bands are chosen randomly.  Evol Lived was founded by guitarists Mike Meyer and Chris Walsh. The band would eventually grow to include, bassist Barney Lopez and drummer Kristen Allard. Following the addition of a new lead vocalist in 2010, the band changed it's name to Red Light Cameras.  Evol Lived claims The Flaming Lips, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Grizzly Bear (that one piqued my interest) and a few other modern indie rock bands as their influences. The band's bio consists of a short gamers fantasy tale.  You immediately suspect that these guys are gamers, since their profile picture is a Nintendo game cartridge. And of course, the big news that concerns gamers at the moment is the hacking of Sony's PlayStation Network, which resulted in personal data being accessed by malicious hackers. Although Sony initially denied that credit card numbers were compromised, they later backed off that statement saying that "They couldn't guarantee that. Those kinds of non-assurances did not sit well with the 70 million Sony PlayStation Network users who are now sitting around twiddling their thumbs. Or as my nephew said;  "I'll just keep logging on until it let's me back in."
The first track on the band's stream is "Believe it's True", a 70's retro rocker full of  fuzzy guitars trapped in the midst of a noisy swirling mix. Just like Brute cologne or Hai Karate this song reeks of the 1970's, a fuzzbuster guitar solo is included, free of charge.  Sometimes, bands do sound like their stated influences. They channel Grizzly Bear and Modest Mouse, on "Bubble Soap" which features a percolating guitar lead. It's Evol Lived's best song, catchy and intelligent. "And we'll watch you drown underneath the bubble soap" and it comes with a video.   The next song "Consolidated" reminds me of Unit 7 Drain, but it suffers from uneven vocals, which seem to be the band's Achilles heel. While Meyer's raspy vocals can be endearing, they also have the cringe factor of finger nails on a blackboard. "Hey Hey Hey" finds the band working the same eclectic vein of indie pop as Earlimart or Granddaddy, it does suit them well. Like Aaron Espinoza and Jason Lytle, Mike Meyer stays within his limited vocal range, and this results in a song that holds up to repeated listens. "Got my Doubts" is short and sweet, with guitar strummin' and pickin' accompanying some earnest and sincere vocals. It also features some nifty harmonica playing that adds depth to what is otherwise a standard take on the ol' introspective folk tune.
 "Under the Shades" is grunge rock with call and respond vocals.  They mimic The Smashing Pumpkins, but the lyrics are messy and nonsensical, which ultimately causes the song to sputter out. "We're the One" returns to the formula that works best for Evol Lived. Just like on "Bubble Soap" and "Hey Hey Hey" it's those slightly odd beats and rhythms that seem to work best,   The band's new vocalist, Amanda, takes center stage on "Gwen"  Amanda Machon is a good vocalist, who's still trying to find her voice, on this song she sound like Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, which is not a bad thing. There's another song on the band's stream called "A12Demo" which seems to be a composite of guitar riffs without vocals. Evol Lived also has two additional songs posted on Soundclick.
 On My Space Music they answer the question of who do you sound like with a chippy "Anything you feel the need to compare us too" however, it's really not about our needs, originality is not the band's strong point. Comparisons are a fact of life for rock bands, those that were here first, get all the credit for being innovators, everyone else is just following in their foot steps. Mike Meyer is an adequate vocalist, but the addition of new lead vocalist Amanda Machon gives the band's music a  new dynamic. While bringing Amanda on board may prove to be a good move, changing the band's name is a bad move. Evol Lived was not the greatest of monikers, but it did have name recognition going for it. Red Light Cameras?, why not Orange Barrel Mayhem or Turning Left on Red? or my favorite, Lane Changer, which was the title of a 1973 album released by Michael Fennelly. Ok, the last one was just a shameless plug for one of the 70's long forgotten guitar heroes. If the band is able to overcome the handicap of an abrupt name change and they manage to hold on to their core fans, they should do fine. There is no shortage of talent, songwriting skills or ideas, the band's eventual success will be determined by their determination to succeed. Red Light Cameras is currently active on the local scene, however  it appears that with the name change, it's game over for Evol Lived.