The two-person Rock band has become de riguer as of late. Following the cliché, "Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup," many bands are chucking unnecessary instruments and members in favor of the tight musical and psychic relationship that can only exist between two people. The result is duos that harness more energy and power than many fully staffed traditional bands.
The most successful of the pack, Detroit's The White Stripes, have made minimalism hip with their catchy blend of Delta Blues, British Invasion Pop and T-Rex glam using only a guitar, drum kit and voice. The world's dumbfounded by the fact that this big sound is coming from only two people. Of course, a sound like this can only come from two people.
Up in Chicago though, this stuff is old news. Blues/Rawk twosome Cash Audio (formerly known as Cash Money before a legal threat from Rap label Cash Money Records resulted in a name change) have been doing this exact thing for years. As have Evil Beaver. But, unlike their more famous contemporaries in the Rock world of twos, Evil Beaver has a different edge and a wholly different plan of attack.
Evil Beaver plays Metal. And unlike most Metal bands, a guitar is nowhere to be seen. Instead, a straight-from-the-gutters-of-hell distorted bass dominates the compositions.
Evil Beaver is also all female. And in the extremely machismo, misogynistic, Metal/Rap world we currently live in, they are a breath of fresh air.
Their first full-length album, Lick It, has more musical and lyrical substance than the majority of Nü-Metal bands that clog the airwaves. At the same time, they are comfortable enough with themselves that they can wear pasties and string bikinis and employ scantily clad dancers during performances without the appearance of exploiting their own sexuality. With Evil Beaver, it's all about power.
The 13 songs on Lick It are unique in that they all possess a definite force, yet are never forced or forceful. Evil Beaver knows the power of restraint, a trait that eludes many Hard Rock bands. The songs often shift gears from soft laments to fuzzed-out Rock, with bassist and vocalist Evie Evil's delicate voice becoming a fierce scream behind drummer, and Jimmy Chamberlain protégé, Laura Ann Beaver's tight, skilled percussion. The duo has the ability to ride a riff as if it were a Mac truck. Their synchronization gives the songs a oneness and wholeness that only two people can produce.
Lick It is a thoroughly complete effort. Standout tracks "Cherry Master," Superbird" and "Macho Man" exhibit all of the band's strengths, particularly Evie's emotive and driving bass work. "The Ballad of Sandy D. Martino I" and its doppelganger, "The Ballad of Sandy D. Martino II," are priceless. The former adds a piano to accent Evie's soft voice and bass, while the latter is the Jekyll and Hyde answer: a short, fuzzed, rocked out, passionate dirge.
The album also contains extra bonus features: two Evil Beaver CD-ROM music videos. "Macho Man" is a montage from an Evil Beaver live show, while "Superbird" is from their appearance on the Chicago-area, cable-access, dance show for kids of all ages, Chic-A-Go-Go. Both clips solidify Evil Beaver's bad-ass quotient and the added chance to catch the duo in action makes the album that much better.
Overall, Lick It is an amazing debut effort. With all luck, Evil Beaver will continue to reinvent the Rock wheel on future releases.
Evil Beaver plays at Sudsy Malone's in Corryville on Sat., June 22.