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Baltimore's freshest helpings of alternarock, nonsense, and not-quite-nonsense
Ira Gamerman is drunk on words. Stories pour out of the 25-year-old local (for the moment: word is that he's moving to Chicago) playwright and singer/guitarist in indie-rock trio Even So as if he can't keep them inside. "I was stranded in Seattle after five hours in the air/ pondering the ending of my latest love affair" he stammers in the opening line of "Drink Two (Homecoming and Departures)," the leadoff track of the trio's second EP. And he's just getting started: During the minute and a half song he sprints through the bridge with "So drink one for the title of the record/ drink two for the tearstains on your sleeve/ drink five and you'll survive if you make out alive/ drink seven and you'll get no more reprieves."
The stories Gamerman tells are less fully formed than feverish glimpses of the big picture, like watching a DVD at 32 times normal speed. And his bluntly throaty voice is an ideal imperfection to run through these slivers, an unmannered, yelping earnestness that sells such restlessness as sincere even when it sounds like John Ashbery madlibs-viz. the "but airbag, airbag I can't see the future from the dashboard window changing all your colors and alright yet my god can you tell me there must be a way to make my life more efficient" from "Interstellar (Airbag, Airbag)." Everything arrives in such hurried insistence that you suspect that for every song Even So has recorded Gamerman has 10 scribbled in a notebook and another 47 ricocheting around the inside of his skull.
Musically, though, the trio hasn't figured out how best to interact with these rushing non-narrative snapshots. At the moment, it almost sounds as if the implied pace of Gamerman's lyrics sets the songs' tempos-which means that drummer Sam Hoffberger echoes the skittishness in cymbal splashes and anxious hi-hats and bassist Tyler Wolfe is left to pound away keeping up. It makes for fine indie-rock spiked with playful jitters-think Ted Leo/Pharmacists minus Leo's almost Lindsey Buckingham-esque gift for pop gloss-but it all starts to feel too cookie cutter, as if there merely to frame the words. As in, when the meandering drive of Gamerman's "Interstellar" is paired with a slowly swaying beat and treble-kicking guitar sheen, the result sounds way too Hoobastanky. The folksy march of "A Song for the Stable Marie (Annelise)" works better, exploding into something almost as barn-levitating as Califone by the song's end. Best here is "Joseph Lewis Lucas," where Even So contrasts Gamerman's wry run-on sentences with endless summer power-pop. Gamerman eventually becomes a tad too precocious/precious at the end, but it's hard to fault overwriting in a young songwriter who probably still has another few hours in him he needs to get out before he finds his stride.