Jeez, it’s already been almost a week? Well, this post will make up for it, guaranteed.
One day, during my senior year of high school (almost four years ago now – and when I was still in Seattle), my friend Courtney called me up and invited me over. Her friend, RaeAnne, stumbled across two young (and attractive) gentlemen playing on the street. The cops had stopped them from playing, but had apparently enjoyed their music so much that they walked away with copies of their CD.
RaeAnne, being the outgoing, outrageous girl that I always wanted to be during high school, invited them over to Courtney’s house to play a show. When I got there, she played their CD, and called more people, inviting them to see a band that sounded like “the White Stripes meets Modest Mouse” (remember, four years ago – think White Stripes pre- their big boom, and Modest Mouse pre- “float on,” though that’s still not very accurate, but hey, it’s hard to describe music, especially when it comes to a band like this).
The two guys were polite and didn’t seem remotely uncomfortable playing in this tiny living room to about 10-15 people. Their music left most of us wildly impressed, especially me. It was one of the most passionate shows I’d ever seen (and the guitar player/front man had a stare that you could get lost in). They stayed around to chat for a bit, but they had to make their way to Vashon Island (of all places) for another show. I never forgot that band.
For the next year or so, every time the band came to town, they played in the smallest venues to pint-sized crowds. But I would drive up to 45 minutes away in some instances to see them, because I knew that I could count on them to not only give one hell of a performance regardless of the size of the audience, but to be incredibly polite and interesting people off the stage.
That band was Two Gallants.
Today, anyone who’s paid attention to SXSW, Pitchfork, various MP3 Blogs or even Rolling Stone over the past year or two probably recognizes their name.
I’d say that I hate to say I told you so – but does anyone ever really hate to say that? In this case, I admittedly don’t. I’m not one to bring up “favorite bands” ever, really, but if you want to talk about the band I’ve listened to the most within the past couple years, my last.fm page speaks pretty clearly.
Currently, the band is doing an extensive tour of the UK before they come back to the US for what is bound to be a “breakout” tour. “Breakout,” however, is almost an insulting word for a band that’s been at it for as long as Two Gallants have. I won’t provide you with all the details of their complete history here–but only because I did a pretty decent job of it in this article, and this interview.
When I interviewed them a year-ish ago, they were touring with Rogue Wave, and still riding off of the success of their “debut,” The Throes, which was relased on Alive Records.
I’m not going to post any MP3s from this album, because a) it’s not new and b) it’s just the kind of thing you need to own (though that pretty much goes for everything I post about here). The band, apparently, was not entirely pleased with it (which I learned from this fascinating interview, which opens up the fact that The Throes was apparently produced by the guy who also produced the Killers album, which he was far too busy producing at the time to give these talented young lads the effort they deserved, but anyhow), but for a record that didn’t turn out exactly how they wanted, it made quite the impression. Or at least enough of one to get them signed to Saddle Creek.
I put “debut” in quotes, because again, it’s kind of insulting considering that the band had at least two self-released CDs before then. One I have is simply self-titled and contains an early version of the gem “Drive My Car” that ended up on The Throes, and “My Baby Gone” (download), which I believe they still play live occasionally. The other self-released collection I have is titled By The Grace Of God, and has “Jesus Waxen Old” (download), which would later be titled “I’m Her Man” and relased as a 7″. It also has another version of “My Baby Gone,” and another song I’d really like to see them record again, “Get Proud” (download). When I saw the tracklist for the newly-released What The Toll Tells, I was excited to see “16th Street Dozens” (download), because this is a definite fan-favorite that appears on the self-titled release that I have (though the version I’ve supplied for download is the one on WTTT).
I could obviously go on forever about how much I love this band and why you should love them, too. I’ll try to really nail this in two short statements where I talk more directly about the music: 1 – their folk & blues americana meets punk meets something else is the most original thing I’ve heard coming out of the “scene” today. 2 – they’re incredibly talented, especially for their young age, but mostly just in general: Tyson Vogel is one of the two best drummers I’ve heard in recent memory (the other being Chris Enriquez from the now defunct On The Might Of Princes), and Adam Stephens deserves to be given the title of my generation’s official storyteller (a la Bob Dylan / Bruce Springsteen).
Any one of their songs can encompass this, but I’m going to go with something that’s actually a bit of a departure from everything else here (yet is equally amazing) – “Threnody In Minor B” (download). Every (good) album has its opus, and this is What The Toll Tells‘. That’s not to say it’s the absolute best song on the album (don’t you dare make me choose one), but literally and dramatically speaking, it’s the climax.
Two Gallants albums are great – as you’ve hopefully noticed. But Two Gallants live are even better – it’s for this reason that I suggest you listen to the albums before you see them live for the first time (you have until spring, so you’ve got time). You can download an entire live show here – highlights include “Steady Rollin'” (download) (I actually like the lyrics better in this version than in the album version), and their interweaving of Neil Diamond’s “Play Me” with “Nothing To You” (download).
(Image taken by me.)
Oh, have I mentioned how incredibly prolific they are? Here’s a live BBC Radio version of a new song, “Reflection Of Marionettes” (download), thanks to one of my new favorite bloggers, You Ain’t No Picasso. I also recommend that you buy “All Your Faithless Loyalties” from iTunes (I believe it’s the first thing they put out after being signed to Saddle Creek) – it’s more than worth the $0.99.
Lastly, to tease my upcoming theme, here’s one more tasty morsel:
Two Gallants: “Anna’s Sweater (Blear Cover)” (download)
Wow – I’m spent. Thanks for making it this far!