Independence Day in Leipzig – Let’s murder the season with Two Gallants
Californian indie band Two Gallants are taking their latest album on tour, and tomorrow at 9 p.m. – Saturday, July the 4th 2015 – they’re entertaining us at Werk 2 in Connewitz. You couldn’t think of a better way than celebrating Independence Day with this amazing combo from San Francisco, about to arrive in Leipzig with their bags full of anti-gentrification anthems and lyrical weltschmerz to mark the occasion.
Labelling Two Gallants as just another indie band from California and reducing them to the flannels and tight jeans they wear would be quite cruel. Actually, it’d be a bit like telling a Martian that Pablo Picasso was one of the popular 20th century painters from Spain. The famous painter has given the world of art new direction with cubist and abstract expressionism, and – amongst a plethora of paintings, sculptures and sketches – wonderfully dark and powerful paintings such as Guernica. Two Gallants’s 5th studio album We Are Undone at times feels a bit like their Guernica: a band at the prime of their powers, taking a lyrical shape that’s never been more sullen while discovering and experimenting with musical forms of expression.
For those of you who don’t know the band, the first indicator of quality may be that Two Gallants had initially been signed by Saddle Creek, a record label that is famed for signing bands like Rio Kiley, Azure Ray and Bright Eyes; to name but a few. Think indie rock, lo-fi folk, cross–over blues or similar pigeonholes that critics have tried fitting the band into, and of which none of them could do justice to the musical and at times very progressive nature of their music. So let’s just call them a rock band for the sake of pigeonholing.
The album’s title proclaiming We Are Undone may suggest that Two Gallants are waving the flags of surrender to the constraints of the world that surrounds them, but don’t have yourselves fooled by this sentiment. The two-man combo ‘s lyrics performed by Adam Stephens (vocals, guitar) and Tyson Vogel (drums, guitar) are still steeped in despair and a poignant degree of self-loathing. This now comes along in the shape of their 5th studio album, dressed in a markedly mortified livery that’s best characterised by the shattered skull on the album’s sleeve.
Here’s a brief rundown of the individual tracks:
- We are undone – folk rock intro with a disillusioned son talking to his father
- Incidental – power chords and lyrics about someone’s mother in a hospital with rusty hinges. Really…
- Fools like us – perky sing-along number mourning “oh the road to cavalry is mighty long, and fools like us just don’t belong”
- Invitation to a funeral – a poetic lament over a love lost, this time accompanied by piano and drums
- Some trouble – slow burning and highly explosive, a pedal-steel guitar riding through the Nevada desert with the lyrical pain drenched in whisky, anticipating worse things to come
- My man go – hovering on dream-like guitars full of reverb, Adam’s voice offers yet another grief-stricken lamentation of a life that’s gone wrong
- Katey Kruelly – would you be surprised to hear a story of a cruel Kate now? Well, here it is, this time accompanied by a light-hearted acoustic guitar picking the chords in C major
- Heartbreakdown – we were headed for this, but the guitars are refreshingly bitter sweet, and there’s a heart that “rings, ribbons, bells and bows”
- Murder the Season/The age nocturne – with the return of the power rock chords, Adam laconically quips that today’s society would consider it treason to lose control of a world that we murder while leaving a future generation to scornfully swallow the result
- There’s so much I don’t know – with the final return of the piano and self-chastisement, this slow and contemplative number resumes that “nothing left makes sense to me […] all things blow eventually”
For all the lyrics of this album oozing defeatist tristesse and pain-stricken grief, there is a great deal of positivity packed in the catchy tunes on We Are Undone, making these 10 tracks a tension-packed creation of contrasting themes. We look very much forward to hearing ‘em reverberate at Werk 2 tomorrow.