Two Gallants
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Two Gallants - "Waves of Grain". So there's this movement of furious young men who holler country tunes over a thrum and crash of noise. The White Stripes are the band that have brought this most into the mainstream, but others are fishing in the same waters, reeling up fish that are even browner, even bigger, that buck and thrash with even more spirit. There's something tremendously exciting about this genre, to me, and it feels new, like something's changed since the mediocre Pogues-derived punk-irish bands of the 90s. Now there's Sons & Daughters, Uncle John & Whitelock, Jon-Rae and the River, even Okkervil River in bits, licked by the flames of folk, blues and country; hammering against their guitars; shouting poetry into their flimsy microphones.

Two Gallants are from San Francisco, named after a James Joyce story, just a duo on drums and guitar. And the guitarist plays harmonica, too - raised on Bruce Springsteen as well as Johnny Cash, the Violent Femmes alongside Uncle Tupelo. "Las Cruces Jail" is the song that introduced me to them. It's their "Hotel Yorba", their tune for stomping and spitting. Their single. Go find it. But it's "Waves of Grain" that made me sit straight up and resolve to follow everything they do for the next five years. Because this isn't just garage-blues kicks - this is beautiful, fierce, elegiac music, full of longing. It's youth - not childhood, no, just this inbetween time that already feels full of regrets, that's simultaneously full of hopes. Here are kids like me, singing of the noisy days that make you want to rip out your heart and then stuff it right back into your chest, that make you long to be anywhere else and yet right, right here, stars popping gold-and-silver over your head.

"Waves of Grain" is nine and a half minutes but it never repeats itself. It's discovery after discovery, moment after moment. Adam Stephens snarls a poetry that's almost purple, too much!, and yet as he hurls his lyrics at you they hit and hit and hit. He plays his glittering guitar and blows long proud blasts into his harmonica. And the drums, Tyson Vogel's glorious drums! Smashcrashcrashing till you can believe that maybe this rock music means something, maybe it can break something down to smaller pieces, maybe it can help you to be. It's music that makes me wish I was better at writing about music. Maybe I'll try again later.

[What the Toll Tells is due out in February. Buy other stuff at Saddle Creek. Go see them on tour, including Edinburgh on Feb. 5 with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.]

Posted by Sean at January 9, 2006 1:19 PM

I believe they've been on this site before, but The Avett Brothers are recommened for those who dig Two Gallants.

Posted by Robbie at January 9, 2006 2:13 PM

Very nice. Bright Eyes after a night on the Guinness with Shane McGowan.

Posted by Milo at January 9, 2006 2:21 PM

Yes, yes, and yes. I hear a bit of Crooked Fingers in them as well, but with a more obvious, racuous charm.

Posted by kathryn at January 9, 2006 2:46 PM

I haven't heard the album yet, but based on Two Gallants' song "Crow Jane," I too am hooked. That's an amazing amazing recording and song.

Posted by Ned Flanders at January 9, 2006 2:53 PM

"It's music that makes me wish I was better at writing about music."


Posted by jay at January 9, 2006 5:39 PM

Love 'em. Out of those type of bands in general, Two Gallants has more balls than just about anything.

Posted by Akio at January 9, 2006 5:59 PM

I love this band, their first cd "The Throes" on alive records is just as good.

Posted by Patrick at January 9, 2006 6:50 PM

"The Throes" is a stunning album, and I'm looking forward to the new release. For more samples from that first album, see this page from 3hive last August, with links to two more mp3s. Good stuff.

Posted by alan at January 9, 2006 9:47 PM

I just found your site a few days ago. This particular song is so powerful I am listening on repeat. I have to thank you for brining new music to my life -- something different, and something that makes the music feel real again.

And your descriptions make me want to listen to each song twice, as if perhaps I missed something.

Posted by rob at January 9, 2006 11:50 PM

you write better than me, sean, as if that's saying something! hah!

Posted by the real Jerimee at January 10, 2006 12:56 AM

Hell yes Sean, sounds great.
Thanks again for the Dep of Eagles pointer, right up my street!

Posted by Matthew in London at January 10, 2006 4:57 AM

I first came across these guys on Spoilt Victorian Child, ages ago, and hadn't heard of them since - thanks for the link, looks like they're playing Dublin soon too, definitely not to be missed.

Posted by Paul at January 10, 2006 4:40 PM

Yeah, there have certainly been other bloggy murmurings -- I caught them over at Mystery and Misery.

Posted by Sean at January 10, 2006 4:51 PM

At 2:29 of Las Cruces Jail is that Bob Weir? Sun don't you rise nomo'! Seriously, for a couple of young guys their seems to be so deeply rooted, at the same time brand new. I'm confused I think. It's so everything at once. I'm not even sure what I'm listening to, to be honest. But whoa, I love it, to be honest. Thanks Sean!!

Posted by John at January 13, 2006 2:48 PM

To stream the new album

Posted by gogs at January 31, 2006 11:15 AM

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

Jeff Miller is a Montreal-based writer and zinemaker. He is the author of Ghost Pine: All Stories True and a bunch of other stories. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Say hello on Twitter or email.

Mitz Takahashi is originally from Osaka, Japan who now lives and works as a furniture designer/maker in Montreal. English is not his first language so please forgive his glamour grammar mistakes. He is trying. He joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. Reach him by email here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

Jordan Himelfarb wrote for Said the Gramophone from November 2004 to March 2012. He lives in Toronto. He is an opinion editor at the Toronto Star. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.
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