Imagine a world Dave Grohl stopped making music after Nirvana ended, if Josh Tillman didn’t pursue his own career and just kept playing drums for Fleet Foxes. Would a world without Foo Fighters and Father John Misty be good enough for you? For me it isn’t.
The reason I’m pointing out these artists is because of their parallels to Stephen EvEns. Evens (aka Stephen Gilchrist) has spent years touring as a drummer with the likes of Graham Coxon, The Damned and several other indie groups.
He has since put down his sticks to pick up his guitar and piano, and spent some time in the shed to record his bottled up songs before they spoil and fester into oblivion. Resulting in the dark and satirical 2017 debut Bonjour Poulet.
His upcoming album is called Employee of the Month, which is due for release on the 28th of August through Onomatopoeia Records, with his first single entitled “Dustbin Man” out right now.
Dustbin Man’s wacky premise sets the tone of the album very well. An anthem for the titular essential worker, whose unappreciated heroics are often unsung. The album has a janky self-recorded aesthetic to it that fits Gilchrist’s deadpan delivery very well. It adds a grounded yet whimsical view of the world. Songs in the album can swing from cynical to tender, with a constant string of dark and witty humor embedded in its lyrics.
With tracks like “Push Yr. Thumb In Yr. Eye” that sounds like a diss track with the hard rock grittiness of Black Sabbath to the rumbling chaos of “Claude”, reminiscent of the early years of British punk, EvEns channels anger and frustration through squelchy guitars and bleeding percussion.
But there are also softer songs in this album which showcase Even’s diverse musical range. “Freakshow” is a standout with its stellar piano arrangement and Gilchrist’s vulnerable vocal chops. A song of love and loss that sounds miles apart from its preceding tracks. Another is “Georg & Kathleen”, with its beautiful acoustic guitar and violin arrangement. A duet between a couple expressing their love for each other. It’s sweet and sappy and extremely out of place in a album of dustbin rock and snarky punk. I absolutely love it.
The album closes off with “The Day I Burned My House Down”. A whimsical contemporary pop song that channels Elton John, except it finds our characters engaging in light-hearted blasphemy and arson.
Employee of the Month is a fun ride from start to finish. It proves that Stephen Evens has what it takes to be one of the best drummer-turned-solo artists in the scene. Although he may need a few more steps to get there, what’s for certain is that this is something you definitely shouldn’t miss.