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Two Gallants - What the Toll Tells Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals N/A
Musicianship N/A
Lyrics N/A
Production 0.25
Creativity 0.25
Lasting Value 0.25
Reviewer Tilt 0.25
Final Verdict: 3%
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Two Gallants - What the Toll Tells

Reviewed by: Garett Press (04/10/06)
Two Gallants – What the Toll Tells
Saddle Creek Records
SCORE: {7.5/10}

Whether or not you’re a card-carrying member of the Saddle Creek fan club, you have to concede their knack for putting out records that stand apart from every Tuesday’s heap of jewel cased, 12-song, compact discs. The latest grassroots indie exhibitionists to join the glorified Saddle ranks are Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel of Two Gallants, wielding only their guitars, their drums, a harmonica, and well… their throats.

With the basic elements intact, the Gallants perambulate a spectrum of punk-country that could only spawn from the mating of a harmonica and Stephens’ harsh rasping (you can practically hear the poor guy’s throat tearing up). Sometimes gushing with sweet and other times burning sour, Two Gallants attempt the Decemberean task of telling old-time tales but with a half cup less romance and a quart more grit. In the place of The Decemberists’ quixotic swashbucklers we find the type of desperate, weathered figures who report from a run-down prison, resent their lazy white slave-master, or make statements like “You might have seen me 'neath the pool hall lights/Well baby I go back each night/If you got a throat I got a knife/Steady rollin', I keep goin'.”

When band becomes bard we know to expect long-winded and often lengthy tracks. This is no exception, with three songs spanning the 9 minute mark, and those in between at least edging 5. However, there are only nine songs in sum, keeping the record just under one hour. “Las Cruces Jail” welcomes you into this jagged little world where you can virtually envision the tumbleweeds rollin’ by and feel the rattlesnakes slithering past your ankles. Offering a sampler of both sugar and spice, track one offers a good approximation of where this record attempts to take you. The bouncing verses sound akin to older folk in the realm of Johnny Cash, and when they slow down – well… you choose the alt-country comparison. On those aforementioned long-runners a single picking pattern dominates most of the song, which is soothing and easy on the ears but runs the risk of redundancy at some point or another. However, those songs do a good job of augmenting in weight and potency as they play out, eventually reaching an electifying paramount … so if you’ve got the time, it should be more of a listening pleasure than a chore. Plus, production is in a word: ideal… a perfect merge of raw and polish.

Other publications have come down pretty hard on the lyrics, which contain allusions and direct dialogue concerning racial prejudice and such. While the need for the “n” word in any rock song is certainly questionable, Two Gallants ramble through the record pretty elegantly and there is a rather clear notion of where historical foundation ends and mere storytelling begins. It's simply an attempt to paint a picture of another time and place and For Whom the Toll Tells succeeds in doing just that. Perhaps not a showstopper – yet – Two Gallants are an early alternative highlight for the year, and hey… how many other punk/country duos can you name?

Tracklisting1. Las Cruces Jail (download)
2. Steady Rollin'
3. Some Slender Rest
4. Long Summer Day
5. The Prodigal Son
6. Threnody
7. 16th St. Dozens
8. Age of Assasins
9. Waves of Grain

Displaying posts 1 - 6 of 6
08:47 AM on 04/11/06
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godzillany's Avatar
excellent, well written review. I couldnt agree more with it.
09:48 AM on 04/11/06
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yeknom's Avatar
i love this album. good review, too.
02:17 PM on 04/11/06
Garett Press
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Garett Press's Avatar
thanks guys
03:33 PM on 04/12/06
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This album blew me away. It takes me back to early Dylan but with more playful anger and prejudice that is missing from most of today's music which, all too often, plays it safe. Finally some real, unabashed personality.
03:35 PM on 04/12/06
Garett Press
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Garett Press's Avatar
Originally Posted by FreeWilyMo
This album blew me away. It takes me back to early Dylan but with more playful anger and prejudice that is missing from most of today's music which, all too often, plays it safe. Finally some real, unabashed personality.
i like the way you put that... i was really torn on scoring... i really love what's there, i think it can just be molded to a bit better use
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