David Evan
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David Evan

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There are a few tunes on David Evan's Beta that sound so uncannily like they're being sung by Colin Meloy it's near-ridiculous. This is not one of them, as it's somewhat distracting to hear such a familiar voice not coming from, well, the person you're familiar with it coming from. And Evan's own, slightly noisier freak-ish folk is plenty fine all on its own (I'm also all that interested in speculating as to who employed the whimsical lyrical imagery—stories of "chicken boys" and "potato elves," not to mention romancing maritime manatees—and proper, vaguely British deliver first; the two Portland folkies are about the same age, and it'd probably be most apt to point a finger at Robyn Hitchcock, anyway.)

The lead track, "2012," is a fine example of what sets Evan apart from his more obvious influences (might as well throw ol' Vanderslice into the oddball pop frontman mix, too). "2012? is a bit more on the the driving rock side of things than much of Beta's more subtle folk tunes—and "louder" is a direction Evan recently told WW he was more comfortable with than the singer-songwriter tag to begin with. Relative swing and straight-ahead bass aside, the track still employs all sorts of eclectic creative goodies: horn interludes, noise breakdowns, light staccato guitar and a memorable refrain ("So what/ What the hell ever").

Should be interesting to see where Evan goes from here, as he's just settled into Portland indie rock-dom by recruiting a full band. Hopefully the loud, distortion rattled bursts (you'll see what I mean about 30 seconds before "2012? check out) will continue to permeate Evan's folky dream worlds. And hopefully his own voice will only grow stronger with its new backing; when you have a knack for songwriting as Evan clearly does, there's really no need to share your niche.


Evan premieres his new full band at Brainstains farewell show Saturday, Feb. 23, at Brainstains. 3 pm. $5. All ages. Photo: by Shena Lee.

- willamette week, AMY MCCULLOUGH


[RELUCTANT FOLK] David Evan might be new to Portland's music scene, having relocated less than a year ago from snowy, isolated Vermont, but his artistic vision is clear: "I want to make more noise!" he blurts out with an itchy mix of anxiety and eagerness. "I keep breaking strings because I'm playing this acoustic guitar, and I just...want it to be louder."

Though he mutters "acoustic" as if it were the dirtiest of swear words and balks visibly at the term "singer-songwriter," Evan has spent the past eight months carrying the cross of folkdom. The 31-year-old has been spreading his quirky tunes around town with just his voice, a six-string Ibanez, computer-burned demos and the goal to one day plug in and really play his songs—in all their loud, layered, "we're talking piano, cello and violin" glory.

This direction can be heard clearly on Evan's soon-to-be-released full-length, Beta. An arsenal of instruments—gut-probing bass, echo-laden electric guitars, headily complex drumbeats and unidentifiable soundmakers (is that saw, oboe or whales crying?)—accompany Evan's reverberating, science fiction-meets-sea shanty voice. Over the commotion, he sings earnestly about "everyday" topics like the box-car adventures of a rejected half-boy, half-chicken circus freak; blood-sucking vampires from Los Angeles; space aliens that vacation on Earth to get it on with humans; or the love trials of a rogue mercenary assassin named Dindon Fontaine.

"I'm not writing songs to be understood," Evan says, explaining why a love song, for him, might involve a man singing to the manatee at his boat's helm rather than a beautiful woman. "I'm all about atmosphere, and leaving it open to interpretation for people to experience, to react. I'm all about creating a little world." He adds with a quick smile, "I'm essentially an escapist."

Contributing to this manic musical atmosphere, former Vermonter bandmate Chris Farnsworth (who co-wrote several of the songs on Beta) will join Evan in the new year. Having recruited several talented local instrumentalists to back him, as well, Evan's "little world" is slowly starting to match his vision.

"I've been in bands since I was 15, " he says matter-of-factly. "It's all I've ever wanted to do...," he trails off, then responds stronger, louder: "It's still all I want to do."

SEE IT: David Evan plays Thursday, Jan. 3, with the Gentry and the Hand That Bleeds at Kelly's Olympian. 9 pm. $3. 21+. Also Friday, Jan. 4, at the Green Room. 11:30 pm. $5. 21+. - willamette week, ANNIE BETHANCOURT


Who Is David Evan?
Answer: One of Portland's many talented musicians! We first met David recently at an open mic night at Zilla's and were impressed with his passion and excitement for getting his music out there. After listening to a copy of his new album Beta we knew we had to work with this guy! David is originally from Vermont and recently re-located to our lovely city to further pursue his music and art. You can read all about David in our new interview (coming soon!)

What is the music like?
Willamette Week describes Evan's new album Beta as "an arsenal of instruments—gut-probing bass, echo-laden electric guitars, headily complex drumbeats and unidentifiable soundmakers-accompany Evan's reverberating, science fiction-meets-sea shanty voice." Many of his songs have interesting titles and he sings about everything from blood-sucking vampires from Los Angeles to space aliens coming to Earth.

Upon first listening we heard a lot of Decemberists and Death Cab in the music and vocals, but with further listening you become aware that David has a style an sound of his own which isn't easy to peg down to one genre or influence.
- Scene Greg - http://www.myspace.com/scenegreg_venue


Discography

Beta (2008)

Photos

Bio

David moved from Burlington, VT to Portland, OR in May of 2007, leaving behind a house he had lived in for ten years, two cats, and a band he couldn't convince to come with him. The cats have a good home with friends. He formed a new band with some awesome musicians, one of whom, Posie, he knew from VT. They are taking his music into new exciting territories.