Two Cow Garage: Sweet Saint Me (Suburban Home Records, 2010)
If you have followed One Chord to Another lately, you know that I’ve become a huge fan of Micah Schnabel and Two Cow Garage during the year and I have listened to them more than anything else. It all started early in the year when I completely fell in love with Micah’s solo debut When The Stage Lights Go Dim. I still have a strong relationship with that record and it’s one of the two major contenders for the album of the year award (the other is Long Way To Go by The Fox Hunt). This obsession obviously meant that I needed to introduce my heart to Micah’s band Two Cow Garage. However, it wasn’t an instant love affair, because my pop-soaked heart tried to reject some of that loud rock’n’roll, punk rock and cowpunk that came my way. Thankfully it didn’t took me long to realize that Two Cow Garage was also a perfect match and I soon bought the whole back catalogue. Therefore it’s no wonder that the new Two Cow Garage album Sweet Saint Me became the most anticipated album of the year in this household. Now the wait is over and despite all the monstrously high and almost unfair expectations, Sweet Saint Me doesn’t disappoint me.
First, lets leave the fact that Two Cow Garage is one of the best rock bands around aside and say a few words about the thing closer to the subject of this website, pop music. I definitely wouldn’t call Sweet Saint Me a pop album, but it does have a fair share of moments that appeal to this soul that got hooked into this whole music thing by consuming more power pop than a body can safely handle. There’s some great power pop choruses on the album and even a Big Star reference on the song Jackson, Don’t You Worry. The first single Lydia, is a good proof that they do have a lot of pop sense. A little bit of Elliot Smith in the verse and a stunning chorus that all pop fans would appreciate unless they are too shocked about the story of the almost illegal and at least morally questionable love affair presented in the song.
The ability to make wonderful power pop anthems is just one side to this story. If I try to become some wise-ass reviewer I could say the other two big ingredients in this ball game are countrified rock’n’roll in the vein of Lucero and co and the punk rock getting ready to meet the Boss a’la the early Gaslight Anthem or Jesse Malin. But mainly I should just cut this namedropping crap and say the only thing that you need to know. Sweet Saint Me is a great rock record and I just love listening to it. Micah Schnabel has become a really stunning songwriter during the last few years. Sweet Saint Me, the solo album and the previous Two Cow Garage album Speaking In Cursive introduce a huge amount of perfect or near-perfect rock songs. It’s still good to remember that this is not only a Micah show. Shane Sweeney again delivers a couple of great tunes that add some versatility to the album and the whole band is in excellent form.
Things that I don’t like. Well I don’t like the backing vocals on Insolent Youth at all and I prefer the version on youtube where Micah just plays it with an acoustic guitar by himself. But that’s pretty much it. Nothing else comes to mind right now. What a wonderful record.