The Young Evils – Seattle Science Center Laser Dome – 11/19/2014

When I first saw the Young Evils there was that double vocal thing. They didn’t do harmony. It was Troy and Mackenzie doing the same melody in octaves, and it gave them a unique sound. It was a little odd at first, almost robotic, but at the same time it was warm and fun and refreshing in the age of American Idol. They had a poppy sound, a little jangly, a little distorted, even a little folksy at times. It was cool. And back then the vocals were pretty evenly balanced. Neither Troy nor Mackenzie took the vocal spotlight. The focus was on the doubling, the octaves, like in “This Rock and Roll City is Done.”

But as I wrote in the book, they changed a little after that. The jangly thing went away. There was still a pop element, especially for the vocals, and there was still the octave thing, but it was different. The balance had shifted to Mackenzie with Troy’s vocals there to give more body, more tone. And it worked. The sound progressed. I wrote about them as being “more evil, less young.” Song’s like “Dead Animals” stood out and stuck in the mind.

It’s a song about a relationship gone bad, about becoming dead animals in the end when we’ve moved on, but then, in the end that is what we’ll all become, maybe even what we already are, dead animals. And it’s a song that sticks in the head. Everywhere I’ve gone in the past week, I’ve been singing it under my breath, “Dead animals is what we’ll become…”

And then there’s the Young Evils now, the new stuff I heard at the Laser Dome last week when they opened for the Hoot Hoots. Wow. There was a brand new song that had an awesome groove. It was actually heavy, something I hadn’t seen from them before. And there was the closer, a slower number that built into something big, something, again, actually heavy, something that breathed and sighed and rocked. They were–and forgive my grammar here–eviler, and the octaves were gone. Mackenzie was the lead now. And she was good. Her voice didn’t soar in the manner of American Idol, but it didn’t need to, that wasn’t the point. Her voice was a part of the music, not something to show off on top of it. She was the lead now, she was the one, but she sang in a band rather than over it. And that made all the difference.

The new stuff is good. It was recorded in LA as they tempted fate with a major label. That fell through, but they got the recordings, and as I listen to tracks like “Get Your Guns” I am excited. I bob my head, tap my feet. There’s something familiar in the chorus, and I try to put my finger on it, but I can’t. It’s elusive, just beyond my reach. I look through all my CDs to find the similarity. I search my brain, but I can’t quite find anything, and maybe that’s the genius of the music. There’s something familiar there, but I haven’t quite heard it before. And it sticks in the head.

“So get your guns and pray…”

I love that descending slide in the verses and that bit about pining for the moon in the middle.

In short, they keep getting better, eviler, and lucky for you, they’re playing this Saturday at the Tractor. The cover is $8.00. See you there.


Dave O’Leary is a writer and musician living in Seattle. The Music Book, his second novel, was published by Booktrope in September 2014. In addition to writing for Northwest Music Scene, he has also had work published in The Monarch Review and on Visit his website at Photo by Stacy Albright,

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