CD Review: Animal & the Evolvers — Heads Up Portugal

Animal & the Evolvers
Heads Up Portugal

By Al Kaufman

First things first, Atlanta’s own Animal & the Evolvers are to be loved if only for the message on the bottom of their CD: “Pass the wine. Please feel free to rip this CD and share it with a friend.” No FBI warnings here. These boys do not think you a felon for sharing their songs with a friend.

But there is so much much more to love about this band than their lack of a warning label. Animal & the Evolvers have that style that is best described as indescribable. They refuse to be classified. This virtually guarantees no radio airplay, but is sure to foster a rather rabid fan base of people who just appreciate good music that knows no boundaries and musicians who aren’t above the cheap sex joke.

On Heads Up Portugal, the band does it all. There is torch and twang country (“All Damn Day”), white boy reggae (“Always Looking at the Door”), jam band solos (“Lonely”), ’60s psychedelia (“Lost in this World”), Americana (“Can’t Afford to Miss”), and just all out party music (the title track, with lines like “We’re gonna drive all the ladies wild with our American accents”). Yet it all meshes together smoothly. Led by Evan Casey’s slightly nasal — but deeply resonating — vocals, and Jarrett Bellini’s bubbling bass, the band maintains a cohesive sound during their trek through the musical stratosphere.

Humor runs throughout. Casey sounds like a Vaudevillian vampire on “Lost in this World.” And he demonstrates his rhyming skills when rhyming a certain sexually transmitted disease with many other word on “Signs of Syphilis” (“The signs of syphilis/Are right here on my lips.”). Even when they tackle serious issues, like the current economic crisis (“Dollar Isn’t Worth a Dime”), they manage to make their point by demonstrating how many distractions people have (Internet, Taliban, Lipitor, etc.) so that they don’t pay attention to the economy. It hits home.

Want more? How about the fact that “Isn’t It Funny” sounds like it could be written by another band that refuses classification, They Might Be Giants, except Animal & the Evolvers don’t seem as nerdy.

And one last thing, one week before he died, Animal and the Evolvers decided to do a live cover of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street,” with Chris “Big Chill” Prince doing the sax solo on his guitar. This not only proves them to be great musicians, but omniscient as well (or maybe it means that you never want them to cover your song or you will die). Either way, their coolness quotient is off the charts.


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