Show review: The Evens at The Vex; New music: Bad Religion, T.S.O.L., Best Coast, Bob Mould

Last week’s Evens gig at The Vex was great. As the progressively heavier sound of their albums implies, the live show has become more rocking as Ian Mackaye and Amy Farina’s musical partnership rolls along. What once may have been called “stripped down” or “simpler” in comparison to the members’ previous, more “punk” bands is now just plain raw with all the energy of the aforementioned, more plugged-in projects. Yes, the married duo from D.C. encourages singalongs these days but their vibe is fully charged and anything but folky. With as much anger and insight as ever, now tempered by humor and parenthood, Ian sits but just barely as he plays his baritone guitar. A substitute for Fugazi? Not exactly but they’re playing vital songs that are honest, meaningful, powerful, and sometimes even lovely.


Bad Religion – Covering the Hits E.P.
This is a bootleg of a bootleg labeled with a bootleg “Record Store Day” logo. Nice. With ragged takes on Led Zep, Chuck Berry, and the like from The Starlight and The Olympic in the early ’80s, the plain gray vinyl more of a time capsule than a necessity. As a fan of the band and early L.A. punk in general, it’s a hoot to hear the young band having innocent fun on infamous stages from back in the day, and one or two of the songs might provide an interesting tangent on a mixtape. But outside of hardcore collectors, it’s pretty disposable.

T.S.O.L. – You Don’t Have to Die E.P.
The title track of TKO Records’ RSD release is an unreleased demo from 1980. A different version was released on a Nitro compilation in the ’90s, but this take is loaded with genuine Reagan Era gloom, doom, and dysfunction. It rocks lurchingly and menacingly. You won’t want to get too close to the bile-dripping speakers but you’ll want to crank them up. On the b-side the live versions of choice cuts “Property Is Theft” and “Dance with Me” are muddled and squealing with feedback, and capture a hopped-up, unhinged band that is on the verge of imploding. Awesome stuff.

Best Coast – “Fear of My Identity” b/w “Who Have I Become”
Even as the pieces of singer Beth Cosentino’s sanity seem to keep cracking further and further apart in her lyrics, the melodies become more tightly wound and powerfully produced. Mixing the exuberance of the band’s first album and heavy themes of the second, both songs are insanely catchy heavy hitters with Bobb playing slightly tastier licks on the b-side. Bummer I missed the accompanying RSD show at Fingerprints, but this is a satisfying, solid effort hinting at another excellent album to come.

Bob Mould – See a Little Light
Maybe you weren’t as lucky as me and didn’t get to attend the Hüsker Dü and Sugar leader’s star-studded tribute at the Walt Disney Hall least year. You know the one where the author/DJ/musician jammed with No Age and Dave Grohl after inviting members of Spoon and The Hold Steady as well as Ryan Adams to cover his songs. Not bad! There are times when this DVD gets a little too showbiz and gratuitous with behind-the-scenes stuff but the final, joyous, ripping segment of “New Day Rising” (with Grohl), “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,” “Celebrated Summer,” and “Makes No Sense at All” (with his current band) absolves everything. This single-track, no-menus edition was a Kickstarter incentive to document the night. Will there be a commercial version with chapters, more bonus stuff, etc., now that the guts have been made?