Saddle Creek | Two Gallants | Reviews


What the Toll Tells

Author: Richard Pietsch
01/02/2006 | | | Album Review
For those of you who don't know yet, Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel are Two Gallants and come February their second full length album will be out. Certain albums are just a pleasure to get to write about. This is one of those albums.

With What the Toll Tells, Two Gallants have produced a wonderfully complex album. Its complexity is impressive in itself considering the tracks feature only these two gentlemen. Stephens leads with lead vocals and guitar, while Vogel backs up with drums. It's astounding even on first listen as these songs are instrumented so incredibly well.

Two Gallants' sophomore effort comes as a bit of a surprise. While there might not be lines forming at midnight the night before it goes on sale, there is definitely a buzz surrounding it (and for good reason). These gentlemen have an amazing style which appeals to so many different tastes. This album has flares of alt. country, Americana, folk, and jam from a duo who belong to one of the most well known and respected independent labels of the decade (Saddle Creek).

What the Toll Tells is gorgeous in so many ways. From start to finish, it's totally analog. Even its coarse moments, such as the verses of "Las Cruces Jail" or the refrain of "Amber Waves of Grain", are just so warm. I don't want to say it's a feat of production, but it's not something you hear so much in a time when Pro Tools is on laptops all over this country. On the whole it just works so well for these narrative tracks.

Referring to the songs as "narratives" doesn't really do them justice. Yes, they tell stories, but it just seems so real. Stephens has a way of drawing the listener into every word he sings, or screams, or bleats. "Threnody in Minor B" is one of the most painfully beautiful songs I have heard in a long time. With the employment of some staccato strings, the ten minute dirge swells and recedes as if mimicking the balance between life and death.

My only issue comes in response to the blitzkrieg of shrieking guitar and clashing cymbals on the track "16th St. Dozens". The only flimsy track on this disk jumps from raucous noise to a simple melody over a sweet progression, then back to a thrashing punk screaming bout only to add a horn line that screams Reel Big Fish.

But with that said, with the exception of this one track everything is just right in place. The flow of the album is impeccable. For what Two Gallants lack in size they make up in structured sound. What the Toll Tells is easily one of the first gems of 2006.

Don't forget to come back next month and read our interview with the guys.
What the Toll Tells

What the Toll Tells

LP / CD / MP3