Monday, October 8, 2007

Two Gallants

"The Scenery of Farewell"
Saddlecreek Records

When I kept reading that the sound of the Two Gallants, though rollicking and rough, was rooted in the blues, I got cold chills down my spine. The thought of two earnest young dudes playing the blues immediately brings to mind hawaiian shirts, porkpie hats and shades indoors, not to mention making those crazy faces during guitar solos. I needn't have worried. In fact, this'n is a taster, a breather before the new album and much more reminiscent of Austin's rebel country scene and the Minneapolis sound circa the 80s. Amongst others.....

For the uninitiated, this might not be the most characteristic introduction to the backwoods, insular sonics of Two Gallants, usually an altogether more raucous affair. HOWEVER, "Scenery of Farewell" seems to be a chance for our intrepid dueo a chance to try out some of that "quiet is the new loud" jive and relax, experiment and sing joyously from some mountaintop backporch (with some harmonica and violin/fiddle along for the ride) in a more restrained and mostly acoustic setting. So we've got this here ep.

It's pretty good fucking stuff. What jumped out at me first, and I'm surprised no other critics have picked up on this, is the sonic/vocal similarities between this and Chris Bell's doomed, lovely solo set "I Am The Cosmos." The same deep loneliness and yearning to communicate and connect with someone else out there, punctuated by bursts of all-too temporary ecstasy, found as the vocals and instruments link together and try to rise higher to transcendence, just to prove all the fucking doubters and demons wrong, knowing full well it'll all end in (dirty) tears.

The overall mood is one of weariness and heartbreak - at times to the detriment of the ep as a whole. It feels like they're holding back, or too road-weary to rouse themselves from a torpor of endless roads and nameless stages. The production is surprisingly clean and clear too. I expected more low fi-tronics. Their next full-length should be good, albeit louder, stuff. Let's have it.

- Matthew Moyer

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