Colorado’s Suburban Home records has established itself at the forefront of the current Americana/Alt-Country explosion, and this latest release from Ohio’s Two Cow Garage set for release in late October is a solid example of how this oft-overblown genre can be done right.
Sonically similar to the band’s 2008 release, Speaking in Cursive – itself a massive improvement on earlier releases by the band – the record starts with all cylinders firing on “Sally, I’ve Been Shot” which ticks all the boxes for a great cowpunk song: nicotine soaked vocals, rolling bass and thumping drums all laid over a just-dirty-enough guitar sound. From here the album moves into the title track, “Sweet Saint Me” and then the piano-laden tale of (slightly too) young love that is “Lydia” – the first cut to be released as a single from the album. Other standout tracks include the touching “Jackson, Don’t Worry”; a sweet track dedicated to a band-member’s young son about the trials and tribulations of growing up with an absent parent and inevitable heartbreak, and “My Great Gatsby” which is a protest against all things wrong with music today (‘since Dylan went electric man, things haven’t been the same / now DJs are making records could you please just be ashamed…’) and ironically sounds well suited to a giant stadium/festival live show spectacular. The touching “Soundtrack to my Summer” is also well worth a listen.
While the album title sounds like that of Green Day’s next rock-opera, this album is more akin to pre-horn section Lucero. In fact, it’s damn near impossible not to draw comparisons between the vocal style of Two Cow Garage’s Micah Schnabel and Lucero’s Ben Nichols, but this needn’t be construed as criticism as both possess some breathtaking pipes.
With a history of hard work and constant US/Europe touring, playing recently with the likes of Ninja Gun and Drag the River, and the entire band making a guest appearance on Jon Snodgrass’ solo album, Two Cow Garage are at the top of the alt-country pyramid, and indeed at the top of their game on this release. The hard work has definitely paid dividends.
© Steve Pass, Music Vice