Two Gallants The Scenery of Farewell [Saddle Creek]

Rating: 6.5

San Francisco duo Two Gallants seem to attract their fair share of trouble. A run-in with the police, unfortunately ending in an arrest and a night in jail, and the legal battle that ensued has left Adam Stephens and Tyson Vogel scarce time to grace us with a full-length effort. The Scenery of Farewell satiates with a calm(er) set of recordings from sound checks and radio appearances.

Belying their grubby punk-influenced southern rock reputation this EP takes a different path, marrying ruddy folk and the sorrow of the blues. The result is more introspective and rootsy than we’re used to expecting from them, but still solidly appealing. More earnest and melancholy, The Scenery of Farewell is reminiscent of Bright Eyes or the Mountain Goats, as opposed to the raw punch of Neutral Milk Hotel.

“Seems Like Home” comes the closest to the typical Gallants’ sound. The furious folk sound takes notes from Uncle Tupelo but when they become more drawn out and sentimental the boys fall a little flat. In the number three spot, “Up the Country” lays out nicely but isn’t exactly as captivating as one would hope. It lacks a driving force to maintain your attention but conjures the slow wonder of the delta blues, a sound that has proved to be a major influence from the beginning, on their debut for Alive Records, The Throes.

“Linger On” does just that. The piano ballad feel is almost touching, but it’s just too long and overly dramatic. Two Gallants have shown us that they can do soft and sad but “Linger On” takes a potentially strong closer track and turns it into a ho hum conclusion.

This EP is an admirable effort to keep the creative juices flowing and to keep you, the audience and fan, interested. Songs themed with classically charming topics like murder, theft, the Old West and racism give Two Gallants an intriguing bent over bands that stick to more modern and ordinary topics. Finger picking and cymbal crashing their way through five sorrowful and intimate tracks, Two Gallants have stepped out with a slightly different approach. Sometimes the sound gets lost in good intentions. Sometimes the intimate beauty of Scenery of Farewell overwhelms. Mostly you just enjoy it for what is and look forward to the next masterpiece to-be from the obviously talented deuce of Stephens and Vogel, aka Two Gallants.

-S. Bradford

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