"A severe pang or spasm of pain, as in childbirth"; the definition of "throes", the title to the first album by the San Francisco dream duo Two Gallants
. The alternate definition is "a condition of agonizing struggle or trouble", probably the more accurate of the two. The most common comparison to the pair is that of Bob Dylan and their amazing performance through Stephen's harmonica and the guitar which really helps categorize the two into similar grounds; their storytelling tracks really add up with those of Dylan, thus making the assessment somewhat legitimate. Adam Stephens presents the band with his grungy, guttural vocals and his fantastic use of the harmonica. He is lead, (well, only) guitar player and, at times, his blues-punk-garage finger picking can blow you out of the water while Tyson Vogel handles drums and back-up vocals. It is actually quite difficult to place Two Gallants into a set genre without sounding generic, but I think that they truly do have their own distinct sound, easily obtaining the harmonica and their amazing in-depth and brilliant lyrics.
The hyphenated phrase folk-punk is the most common genre that Two Gallants is thrown into, and BrainToad mentioned to me that after listening to them more and more they become less and less punk-sounding; I couldn"t agree more. Although the guitar can sometimes reach punk sounding levels, it really doesn"t fit to the music they play. Garage is a more accurate word for them, mixed with folk and blues, where his coarse vocals throw you and his lyrics throw you even farther. Story tales about violence, lost love, misery, alcohol and tragedy add to the boiling pot of their music. The album opens with You Losin" Out
, a prime example to the music their producing, with Stephens playing the harmonica, singing those harsh toned vocals with shattering lyrics while Vogel pounds on his drum set.
It is almost ridiculous to think that while listening to this band that they are only a duo and not a full band, but I find it more amazing how they reach depths of maturity through songs that tell amazing stories and songs that are represented in a woman"s point of view. A great example of a story is the song Crow Jane
, where the depressing, heartfelt lyrics can be better determined by the struggling vocals of Stephens. It"s a lingering version of a "traditional murder ballad" that has been done by Skip James and Nick Cave. The lyrics are rather depressing:
But who's gonna save me from myself,
gotta lay the blame on someone else,
somehow I ain't got no hope,
cause I"m still running from the sheriffs rope"
They really throw Stephen"s feelings into perspective with the help of his careworn vocals. It"s almost of comedic value when he sings:
""it ain't no difference which way I smile,
I ain't good lookin' from a quarter mile"
yet you get a glance at his self-esteem and his songwriting.
The song is accompanied by a cello, adding an even more dismal sound to an already dismal track. Crow Jane
is the first of two songs extending slightly over eight minutes, the other being Throes
. Fail Hard to Regain
opens with the jaunty playing of Stephen"s harmonica and eventually escalates into the punky/garage/blues vibe with the drums dancing in and out with Stephen"s guitar.
Not often in music can you find a decent song displayed from the opposite sex"s eyes, yet in Throes
and Train That Stole My Man
, Stephens does just that. He accurately and brilliantly displays the lyrics through a woman"s point of view and is backed by Vogel perfectly. His rolls and fills pirouette perfectly with his guitar, creating quite wonderful tracks. When you arrive to My Madonna
you get a look at a lost love, while he sings:
Well no I don't care, no I don't mind,
if you don't hear a word from this broke heart of mine.
But can I borrow your face just to unload my mind,
borrow your face just to unload my mind.
The song prevails with turmoil and sadness through his vocals, the backing screams of Vogel and the drawn out notes of his harmonica. Stephen"s sings of how alcohol will suit him better than his love and how he wishes he could care of the major problems going on in the world, yet at the same time it"s all ruining his life.
And I wake on the floor with my country at war,
and I wish I could care but my liver's too sore.
And if liquor's a lover, you know I'm a whore,
if liquor's a lover, you know I'm a whore.
The album really holds something that will make the listener wanting another listen, their stories are worth another listen and the rustic solos will leave a lasting impression. The Throes
is quite an investment to partake in, music wise. It"s brilliance received by those of many genres and all jumbled into something they"ve created all on their own. The antediluvian language sung by Stephens is something I haven"t heard in a while, at least not done well. He uses words such as "twas" and "ye" and uses them fittingly, attributing to a few of his early century lyrics; lyrics that could be thrown into a poem. The Throes
can really grab a listener and once it gets a hold of your sleeve, it won"t let go until you finally decide to wash your shirt and hit repeat on your stereo.
They have a really original sound, wonderful harmonica playing, drums, finger picking and vocals.
Fantastic lyrics, storytelling, maturity, misery and great little quips.
Some of the songs may be too long for some listeners.
His voice may turn you off to their music.