LB: Yevtushenko (the Band) on Kickstarter

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Click the Pic to Go to Yevtushenko’s Kickstarter Page

Yes, it’s true. My favorite band of all time except for The Who (hey, I’m a child of My Generation, what can I say?) is alive and well and ambitious as hell. It’s not enough for them to rule Seattle, they want the whole world.

And why not? Who deserves it more than, erm, well…my little girl?

That’s right, Amber Shine, the female-fronter talked about in the image above, is indeed my daughter. No, I’m not mentioning this to explain why she rocks because that’s something her own beautiful self is about. I’m mentioning it so everyone will understand that when I say she rocks it’s because I know. Because her mother and I have heard every word and note of every song she and Yevtushenko have written/played/recorded.

And not only have I rocked out to the band’s work, I’ve watched and heard it grow, the band’s sound becoming emotionally deeper, its anthems (yes! they’ve got the rock anthem thing down!) more compelling, lyrics more meaningful.

And, hey, as a dad whose paid for a helluva lot of vocal lessons in the past, I’ve got to admit that I’m more than just a little pleased that in the course of all this growth my little girl-woman has been availing herself more and more of her 4-octave range. (Okay, I might be a little off there. Maybe it’s “only” 3. But it sounds like 4 to me.)

But I digress. My purpose here is to give y’all a shout out about Yevtushenko’s Kickstarter campaign. Their EP, Yevtushenko: Do has already become a smash, cementing their position as the acknowledged #1 indie rock band in Seattle, making their Kickstarter goal the raising of enough moolah (I love talking like Bruce Campbell) for them to record their own full-length album of all-new material.

Unlike some other recent Kickstarter campaigns begun by relatives of people in showbiz (like, say, this one where, as Ken Levine puts it, the “daughters of povertry stricken playwright David Mamet…need $32,000 to make a video of their [one] original song),” this campaign is for an eminently reasonable – oh, hell, it’s a damn bargain – amount of money:  $1700.

What’ll the dough-re-mi be used for? Here’s how the collectively speaking Yevtushenko (the band) put it on their Kickstarter page:

Yevtushenko is an unsigned, d.i.y. indie rock band based in Seattle and our process is pretty simple: We open our eyes, tune our ears, look at ourselves and the world around us and then we rock.

Recording is pricey, production & promotions are costly and touring is the most expensive awesome that has ever hit a bank account. But with a little savvy and whole lot of rice’n beans we’ve figured out how to lower our overhead and yield the best of all products – ROCK’N’ROLL!

We were recently quoted $700.00 per day for professional studio time. For a full-length album we’re looking at a minimum of 5 days. That’s $3,500.00! (And that’s before all the hidden consumable costs kick-in like: drumsticks, new drum heads, guitar strings, picks, batteries, food, fuel, etc.) And of course there’s the issue of control. If we record in a professional studio, with in-house engineers, will our album sound the way we want it too? How much of us will sound like them?

We had an idea. WE’LL RECORD OURSELVES! For our first two EP’s we recorded, mixed and produced ourselves. We acoustically treated private residences, loaded-in our recording equipment and went to work. This is a longer, more involved recording process that requires the band to focus and challenges us acoustically, sonically and creatively. Instead of 5 days costing $3500, we budget $1700 for a month. We trade in-house engineers for our own passion and perfectionism. We trade the name and reputation of an associated professional studio for the unique warmth and love of a private residence (which absolutely translates into the recordings). We’ve done it twice now, once in Seattle and once in Los Angeles. And with your help we’ll do it again!

Love,

YEVTUSHENKO

And speaking of doing things professionally but inexpensively, here’s Yevtushenko’s Kickstarter video, which they put together for just a shade over $1.99, or to put it another way, for over $34,700 less than the video mentioned above – and Yevtushenko’s has 3 times as many songs as that intended video’s 1. It’s also visually very, very cool:

As I write this, Yevtushenko has $1,041 of their $1700 goal with 11 days left to go. That means that everyone reading this has the opportunity of a lifetime: To be in on the beginning of, yeah, here we go again, my favorite band.

Now that I’ve gotcha all pumped up, why not hie thyselves over to Yevtushenko’s Kickstarter page and show how, you know, cool ye be?

Oh, wait, three things before I forget:

  1. Yevtushenko is returning to L.A.’s Roxy (yes, that Roxy) July 6th and will be playing the main room. And if you’re there, not only are you guaranteed to hear some of the best rock ever, but if you say hello Amber will, at the very least, smile back. Plus, she and the guys will give you that autograph you secretly crave.
  2. Yes, the Brodys have contributed to Yevtushenko’s recording fund. We didn’t fund it all because Amber and her bandmates, Bazz and Jeremiah, are probably the most independent sons of bitches we’ve ever known. This project, like the music they play, is their dream and no one else’s, and being the ones who make it fly financially as well as creatively is what they’re all about.
  3. No, Amber is not munchman. I swear. She just talks like him.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yevtushenko reached its goal 12 hours after this post was published. Way to go, gang!

And Now a Few Words about Yevtushenko

No, not the Russian rebel poet:

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The band:

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Yesterday on ComicMix.Com, the always interesting Emily S. Whitten came up with the brilliant idea to make this week “Promote Your Awesome Friends Week,” and our most awesome friends are – yeppers, you guessed it – Yevtushenko.

Inspired by Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s anger/attitude/talent, Yevtushenko the band is the #1 Indie Rock band on the Seattle scene, which is a pretty damned high achieving scene, come to think about it.

Last week, they released their first EP, Do, and next week they hit the road for their first tour down the Left Coast, including a stop at L.A.’s famous (infamous?) Roxy Theater on April 18th, where they’ll be rocking a stage that gave a hot welcome to another Seattle band by the name of Nirvana, as well as Ziggy Marley, David Bowie, Guns N’Roses, Bruce Springsteen, etc. etc. etc.

Who are Yevtushenko? What’s Do like? Here’s what PatrickGalactic.Com has to say:

“I’m of a certain mind with a certain will”

– Amber Shine, Yevtushenko, “Tarmac”

Romance and reality. Some could argue that these are diametrically opposed forces. Some would say that one cannot exist in the same habitat as the other. Romantic love as portrayed in movies is clearly unrealistic. The romantic portrayal of the starving artist is a lovely notion…but going hungry with little to sustain your hopes and dreams as you give up your emotional privacy, predictability, and comfort is…less so. But somewhere between Hollywood and the emotional outhouse, a truth exists. A truth that isn’t obvious to the eye. A truth that constantly calls to us but is rarely heard.

Yevtushenko’s three members, Amber Shine (vocals, guitar), Jeff Bazz (guitar) and Jeremiah Johnson (drums) embody that truth as well as anyone I’ve met. They are a band without a land, all three transplants from other places (Shine from Los Angeles, Bazz from Vermont, Johnson from Alaska). They live together. They think together. They write together. They are like the Indie Monkees without the commercial breaks (Author’s Notre: Don’t EVER shit-talk the Monkees, there will be consequences). They are spiritual together. They are a band’s band. Yevtushenko is their life. Art is their life. And, as it turns out, they have all sacrificed deeply for that life.

But with sacrifice come rewards. And I don’t mind telling you that their debut EP, “Do” is a reward for everyone. Recorded over Christmas in a walk-in closet at their house, “Do” is a victory for DIY believers. Utilizing Bazz’s background as a recording engineer, Yevtushenko mixed and produced the album themselves. For a band that has only existed publicly since November 2012 that is quite a feat.

“Tarmac” kicks the album off with a gradual swell that rises to a dizzying crescendo of noise and dissonance before finally breaking, guitar and drums settling into major key, indie pop. Shortly after, Amber Shine’s voice makes it’s first appearance. “Forgotten friends I truly missed you,” she declares “All I say is ‘Hello, Farewell’”. “Tarmac” is a bittersweet love note to all those who don’t understand the unbridled pursuit of personal truth. Mothers, brothers, friends, lovers…the ones who hold on so desperately when they need to let go. “All these years I’ve been chasing dreams,” Shine continues, “I’m starting to wonder if they’re selfish things.”

Any ambiguity left in the wake of “Tarmac” is wiped the fuck away by the opening notes of “Afield”. Starting fast and dangerous, this song is a showcase for the wonder that is Jeff Bazz’s guitar playing. The song begins with a pulsing guitar riff, heavy but with serious swagger, the kind of dance music you can stab someone to. About halfway in, without notice, Bazz and Johnson on drums change suddenly to a flamenco-by-way-of-polka-by-way-of-gypsy-punk-rock vibe. Jeremiah Johnson’s manic dance beat interlocks with Shine’s aggressive vocals, sending sparks of anxiety and menace flying in every direction. “Short wave pulse by a popular hand annihilates me.” This is music to dance, fight and fuck to. Take your pick.

Perhaps recognizing the need for a comedown,“Drown” takes the anxiety out of the sound and puts it all in the lyrics. It sounds like an uplifting song, almost a pop track. But when described by drummer Johnson as “a warning and an indictment”, the lyrics take on a darker shade. Shine sings soulfully to “Drown, baby, drown all the lies in your life” before advising the listener to “be someone else, try as someone else, to love someone else.” Major chords and mid-tempo drums fill the space well while allowing Shine to take center stage. This is a quality of Yevtushenko that I like a lot. Everyone is talented enough to know when not to play.

“Last Criminal” is a shit kicker. This is old-school punk rock done through a modern filter and done really well. Written collectively, this is a track for driving fast with gritted teeth. Shine’s voice is augmented with some creative filtering through the breaks. Jeff Bazz is in Greg Ginn mode here, alternating between harshly distorted guitar and cleaner tones. The sense of disorientation is delicious, the song is just the right length. A lot of ground covered here.

“One Cup of Coffee” takes the pace down a step and may be my favorite track. Bazz’s guitar once again takes center stage but in a different way. Dissonant guitar chords hold the song together, nearly giving way to a wall of feedback…but never quite. The throbbing menace contrasts beautifully with Amber Shine’s weary lament, “Where do we go? I don’t know. I don’t care.” This is music for people with regrets and hangovers. Tom Waits is smiling…if he does that.

“I Don’t Mind” concludes the album…loudly. Jeff Bazz, guitar god and purveyor of all things hooky, makes a triumphant return. Johnson and Bazz create some good ol’ rock riffs that wouldn’t be out of place in 1973 (or 1993). There is absolutely nothing vague about this song. It’s upset, it’s been wronged, it thought you loved it, and now it’s gonna rip your face off. In fact it ends with Shine declaring boldly that she “could get me a gun and find a quiet place. I could end it all if not for your face.” Goddamn. This is love as a weapon and Yevtushenko fires it with conviction.

I took a lot from this record. No two songs sound much alike but the album remains cohesive. As bands have been pushed to find a “consistent sound” by the music industry, it seems too many have simply written the same song over and over again. Yevtushenko rises far above all that. As Amber Shine put it to me, they are “true believers in the art of the song.” This EP does nothing to dispute that.

“Do” projects strength through it’s contradictions. Because the band doesn’t have a primary lyricist, the album benefits from a broad palette of emotional insight. Shine’s self-determined swagger in “Tarmac” is a far cry from Jeremiah Johnson’s scorching indictment in “I Don’t Mind”. But the sincerity of both is evident.

Romance was not invented by cinema. The romance of a young Irish novelist drinking heavily while preparing to share his literary epic with the world is a lovely notion…but alcoholism and premature death certainly aren’t. Oh wait they are (see every dead rockstar always). But to me, the real romance in life is living truthfully. Knowing yourself well enough to sacrifice, to be wounded and to continue the struggle, no matter the cost. “Do” is a snapshot, a documented record of a band that’s existed for a very short time. Yevtushenko has presented one hell of an honest document.

Listen to “I Don’t Mind” from Do.

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Click the image and hear the song

Watch a video of “One Cup of Coffee.” (Caution: Nudity…sorta)

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Buy this album on Bandcamp! (Yeah, we mean NOW!)

EDITED TO ADD: Truth in Journalism Dept. Yevtushenko front woman Amber Shine is our Mighty Leader L.B.’s daughter. (So you know she’s good.)