Two Gallants Time Travel to the 90s, Play Amoeba In-Store Today
Are those Eddie Vedder-esque screechy, warbled vocals we hear? Maybe it’s Smashing Pumpkins riffage? No, wait that’s Nirvana’s sing-song playfulness from “Plateau”. We’ll just come out and say it–it’s Two Gallants’ first album in five years, The Bloom and the Blight (ATO Records) and they’ve time travelled to borrow sound from that hedonistic decade of in-your-face and economic surplus known as the 90s. Good times! Everyone’s a winner here.
We love the 90s for its startling edginess, and the way angst could just grab attention like a 911 beep on your pager. You should know these San Francisco dudes deliver on some of the drum attacks here (to be precise, Tyson Vogel is the drummer) and they seem to have the calm-before-the-storm method down like science.
Even the album’s alliterative title is charming in its contradiction–it juxtaposes beauty with perhaps dystopian decay or something grungy. Many of the songs use that same contrast by starting out hushed before building into an aggressive and commanding presence. But other times the formula is rearranged to suit the songs needs.
The opening moment of “Halcyon Days” for instance, cranks out the feedback in a high-pitched warning, foreshadowing what is to come, but then winds us back down nicely by way of melody.
Agreed, it does seem cathartic at times as frontman Adam Stephens’ reportedly spent part of his time away recovering from a serious van accident two years ago. You can decipher emerging moments that have a flare for the melodramatic, with lyrics like "I’ll lose it if you cut me loose.” Followed by the very psychopathic sounding “While I whisper in your ear...There’s no escape.”
Blighted as that may be, there are moments of acoustic fingerpicking goodness, like on “Decay.” Or if electric is more your thing, “Ride Away” has some nice intricacies and even turns into a rolling fuzz-jam anyone from SF’s psych crowd would easily approve.
There’s even a White Stripes-era Jack White-meets-Neil Young sounding “Broken Eyes.” It’s a sombre dirge and may be fitting that all three acts just played this year’s Outside Lands.
Speaking of seeing Two Gallants live, you have a chance to do just that before they sneak off to tour the U.S. and Europe. There’ll be a special pre-release of the album (it officially comes out September 4th) and a free in-store performance at Amoeba today (August 30th) at 6 pm. You should pop it in your Discman beforehand.