San Francisco lo-fi duo Two Gallants have been cruising along just fine with their brand of punk-tinged folk-rock, releasing three excellent albums on indie mainstay Saddle Creek before relocating to ATO Records for album number 4, the recently-released The Bloom and the Blight. A track like “Ride Away” is a fine example of the pair’s overall aesthetic, running Adam Stephen’s guitar ragged and highlighting his throaty, powerful vocals and Tyson Vogel’s pounding drums. The apocalyptic imagery and general dusty, campfire tone imbue everything here, planting Two Gallants and The Bloom and the Blight firmly in Americana territory with an outlaw bite.
Two Gallants – “Ride Away”
Arising out of the same scene that gave birth to such indie mainstays as Bright Eyes, the Faint and Cursive, Omaha, Nebraska natives Tilly and the Wall tended to look at the world through more rose-colored glasses than their contemporaries, as you’d expect from a band with a tap dancer fulfilling the primary percussive role. It was a perspective that fit in nicely on Saddle Creek sister label Team Love, which specialized in the kind of jangly indie pop Tilly and the Wall specialized in, and one that continues to this day after a hiatus of four years from 2008 release O. Heavy Mood, their fourth album, is more of the same snotty power pop the quintet have been known for, with back-and-forth boy-girl vocals, gang choruses, and the signature tap dancing of Jamie Presnall (wife of singer/guitarist Derek Presnall – so indie of Montreal played at their wedding). Heavy Mood won’t be released until October 2, but for now check out “Echo My Love,” which takes things in a more shoegazey, contemplative (think ’80s teen romance) direction than much of their more sugary material.
Tilly and the Wall – “Echo My Love”
I’ve never been a huge Cursive fan, so I have been pleasantly surprised by their seventh album, I Am Gemini, which just dropped yesterday. It’s their most conceptually bizarre record yet, telling the story of two estranged identical twins, one good and one evil, who eventually meet with chaos predictably erupting. It’s a pleasure to hear Tim Kasher really having a ball telling such fantastical stuff over the most straightforward Cursive record since 2000′s Domestica. Lyrically Kasher has a tendency to go off the rails, but I Am Gemini succeeds mostly because it’s a focused collection of taut, muscular pop-rock, with Kasher’s typically strong penchant for hooks and genuine pathos fueling everything. “Warmer, Warmer,” in general, is a joy to listen to, with its spindly bass and twisting guitar pushing Kasher into more and more anguished yelps.
Cursive – “Warmer, Warmer”
Saddle Creek mainstays Cursive will be releasing their seventh full-length I Am Gemini on February 21. According to frontman and main creative force Tim Kasher, the record is a concept album about two identical twins separated at birth. First single “The Sun and Moon” details the part of the story when the two first meet – and for a Cursive song, it definitely leans in a more pop-rock direction than previous efforts. That’s perfectly fine with me – whenever Kasher has turned down the vitriol and focused on his remarkable melodic gifts, I’ve always found Cursive to be more palatable.
Cursive – “The Sun and Moon”