Two Gallants are still runnin.' - Oh My Rockness

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Two Gallants are still runnin.'

April 26, 2006
There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Two Gallants. I caught them, by chance, back when they were opening up for a headliner I really wanted to see but now can't really remember. It's rare and wonderful when the impression of an opener outlives the memory of the main event, but if Two Gallants are anything, they're certainly memorable. These are two guys who play poetic punk that sometimes sound like poignant Irish drinking hymns and other times like aggressive alt-country croons. And here's the crucial fact you need to know about Two Gallants: there's more to them than what you hear through your headphones. When you witness lightning quick finger picking and rapid fire precision percussion like this, you will stand surprised.

San Francisco's Two Gallants are led by vocalist/guitarist Adam Stephens. He pens and scratchily sings lyrics like "Death's comin', I'm still runnin'" and "Well I shot one man on the county line. Took his dime and I blew his mind" that are equal parts Johnny Cash and James Joyce (in fact, the band's name is taken from one of Joyce's stories... jock rock this isn't). While Stephens finger picks his way through world weary woes, drummer extraordinaire Tyson Vogel keeps the time with controlled fury. When their songs punk it up, Vogel can certainly give fellow Californian, Zach "indie drummer king" Hill of Hella a run for his money. His shaggy mop flailing as he pummels his mini-kit is a site to behold. This furious energy is missing from their recording sessions, but I'll take a standout show over a standout album any day of the week (except Tuesday).

But allow me to go back to my original point about these guys. When I saw Two Gallants play for a half-empty house at Mercury Lounge (and subsequently, at Southpaw, and Cake Shop, and Bowery and...) I was immediately struck by the inherent beauty of these sad songs. Who doesn't want to run away from death? Who doesn't think their salvation is a day late and a buck short? Who doesn't want to knock back a few and regret every now and then? And instead of regretting to the all too common accompaniment of an American Idol-friendly vibrato, isn't it better to yearn to a worn-down voice and a drummer that's surely seen some hard livin'? Ok, so Two Gallants may still only be a couple of twenty-somethings, but their literary music sure sounds beyond their years, the product of a remote time and a more barren place.

Two Gallants play Empty Bottle, on Friday, May 5th


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