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.
Two Cow Garage Website
Two Cow Garage at myspace
What a beautiful shock. I didn’t have a clue there was a new Le Futur Pompiste album coming up. But there is and it’s out on the ever lovely Shelflife Records on november 16th. However, if you preorder it now, you’ll get an instant download. So what are you waiting for.. and more importantly.. what am I waiting for. You can download the opener Five Hundred Beats for free on the Shelflife Website, in case you first need to convince your heart that you need this.
Le Futur Pompiste at myspace
Shelflife Records Website
Liisa is an indie pop artist that moved from Finland to England in 2007. Last summer she started working on her debut album with a producer called Ken Stringfellow and you can hear the first snippet of these recordings on her website. This great song is entitled Julian’s World and you can download it for free after subscribing to her newsletter.
The Posies: Blood/Candy (Rykodisc, 2010)
I love The Posies. They will always hold the #1 position on my imaginary the best bands in the world -list. Sure they have some great challengers like Teenage Fanclub, The Beatles, Big Star, The Zombies, but still… I don’t need a tie-break to choose the winner. It will always be The Posies. After all, I haven’t listened to anything else half as much as I’ve listened to The Posies.
The new The Posies album Blood/Candy is finally here and the band is still in great form. Not that I ever expected anything else, because I really enjoyed Every Kind Of Light as well. I think it’s almost criminally unappreciated album and contains a bunch of wonderful songs. However, if I’m honest and of course I need to be, I was slightly disappointed with Blood/Candy during the first few days that we lived together. I instantly loved most of the songs. Take Care Of Yourself, The Glitter Prize, So Caroline, Notion 99, She’s Coming Down Again.. were just fantastic songs, but somehow the overall feel of the record, the arrangements and the production didn’t completely satisfy me. Basicly I thought it just needed a little more distortion, a little less sophisticated arrangements and a little more pure rock’n’roll. A minor part of me might still agree with my past self, but of course the reason is mostly the fact that I’m, as a fan, still stuck in the 90’s and they, as a band, are not. The majority of me have already set the clocks back to 2010 and have learned to appreciate also the ambitious side of the material like For The Ashes or Accidental Architecture. It would be impossible not to, because Jon Auer & Ken Stringfellow sing like two angels and are such a fantastic songwriters. One should actually praise them for being able to keep much of that old style of The Posies alive while adding some new dimensions to it. If I wasn’t such a simple fan boy whose sacred texts are called Frosting On The Beater and Amazing Disgrace, I might have instantly seen and accepted it.
The Posies Website
The Posies at myspace
Darren Hanlon: I Will Love You At All (Yep Roc, 2010)
Australian pop singer-songwriter Darren Hanlon should be famous. There aren’t many guys out there that can write moving pop songs about a kickstand and make squash sound like the most beautiful game ever. Darren is one of them. His new album I Will Love You At All is out on Yep Roc and it’s once again full of pop songs that make you smile. The lyrics are always brilliant and full of witty phrases that you can use as status updates and even the heartbreaking moments are delivered with subtle smile. The beginning of the album is truly amazing and I’m completely in love with the first four songs. That’s just amazing pop music. Unfortunately the album loses a bit of that magic during the latter half of the album and a couple of “just nice” tunes make appearances. Therefore I Will Love You At All won’t be able to challenge for the album of the year of award, even though it sounds just like the best album of the year during the early stages.
Darren Hanlon Website
Darren Hanlon at myspace