Normally, when a band decides to scale back production and embellishment on a record, it's really no big deal. Many bands decide to drop the overdubs, or reduce the keyboards, or only work with a live horn section, for example. But when your band consists of two people, one playing baritone guitar and singing while the other drums and sings, "scaling back" seems like an impossibility. On the first Evens release, Ian MacKaye and Amy Farina had scaled back the angularity and electric dominance of their prior bands (Fugazi and Warmers, respectively) and chose to keep the music subtle, rooted in atmospherics. Adding to the stripped down lineup, Farina and MacKaye added piano and mood through post-production to give the album a rather warm, close feel. Although at times some of the tones could be jarring or the rhythms jagged, moods and atmosphere would swirl in and out, giving a slightly less than organic feel, leaving the listener safe in the opinion that a lot of the record could not be re-created on-stage in such detail. For Get Evens, their second full-length, the Evens must have agreed, and embarked on a recording process that was much more immediate, eschewing piano and overdubs, recording the songs with a more "live" sound, culminating in a record that is rough, angular, and wholly organic. But that is only half the picture. Both Farina and MacKaye spent a great deal of time in their previous bands dealing in what can only be called more abstract lyrical ideas. Sure, there is no mistaking the meanings behind Fugazi's "Great Cop," or "Give Me the Cure," but much of that band's conceptual fare was left up the ear and mind of the listener. With the Evens, MacKaye and Farina have obviously decided to leave that mindset behind, making pointed protest and criticism without flinching. "Everybody Knows," with its scathing indictment of the real purpose of politicians and George W. Bush, pulls no punches. There's no doubt as to what "you fabricated your way in here and everybody knows...you are a liar" means, or whom it's meant for. Being from D.C., and living in these times, it's no great surprise that the targets of MacKaye and Farina are the elected officials currently residing on Pennsylvania Ave. and others inhabiting federal offices. One only needs to take one listen to "Dinner with the President" to get the idea. But the easy political targets aren't the only ones examined on this disc. The overreaching of government resultant from cashing in on fear and paranoia in the years since 9/11 get a fantastic (and arguably best so far in terms of songs on the matter) reading on "All You Find You Keep." The emptiness of plastic culture ("Cache Is Empty"), consumerism ("Eventually") and -- most important to the overall theme of the record -- freedom ("Get Even") are examinations that gain so much from the decision to keep things as raw and real as possible. The Evens' first disc was pointed and protesting, to be sure, but here, on Get Evens, the raw feeling of the record makes the message here more pointed, more specific, and more meaningful. Protest has always worked best when it is free of embellishment that may diffuse the message. By keeping the proceedings more proletarian, like their shows, the Evens have created a record that blossoms because -- as they themselves put it -- "there's nothing in the way."