Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two Cow Garage- Your Humble Narrator

Closed book.

Speaking In Cursive, the forthcoming album by Two Cow Garage, is so shockingly good that it's forcing me to reassess the overall health of the alt-country genre.

Between No Depression ceasing print publication and many of the music's best artists following Jeff Tweedy out of the stylistic ghetto, I reckoned the sound was perilously close to receiving a grevious angel's escort to heaven. Yet Speaking In Cursive is no moldy exercise in nostalgia; Two Cow Garage's passionate new songs teem with vitality. I suspect the Ohio band learned a few tricks from the Hold Steady. With the addition of a keyboard player, they now swing as if Guy Clark had hijacked the E Street Band.

Need more? The boys go all helter skelter on a live version of the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down."

Thinking of "Galveston"... (I've seen Jimmy Webb perform, but until I uncovered this video, I never realized that his ears are even more enormous than mine.)

Sakes alive! This tale about partying with Head East is hilarious.

Kansas City Click: Here's something no other music blogger would write- I'd gladly pay $9.89 to see Puddle of Mudd at the Midland tonight.

Ruben "El Gato Negro" Ramos is Saturday's headliner at Fiesta Hispana.

It's difficult to believe, but Awilo Longomba is supposedly performing Sunday at the Roxy in Overland Park.

(Image from Two Cow Garage's MySpace.)


Joel @ Postmodern Sounds said...

I think it's a bit unfair to write off a whole genre just because certain high-profile dilettantes have short attention spans. Unless by "alt-country," you specifically mean the Tweedy/Farrar sound, in which case you're probably right about it being on the way out. But I think it's unfair to associate their specific sound so closely with the genre label (even if that's what the label was intended to designate) and then to say the genre is dying because their specific niche of it may be past its peak.

Happy In Bag said...

I appreciate that you called me out on this, Joel.

There are undoubtedly plenty of innovative and compelling artists working within the genre that I simply haven't heard.

And there are lots of strong songwriters married to the music- Tony of Pendergast being one example- who continue to make fine music regardless of trends.

All that said, when smart and interesting advocates of the sound- I'm looking at you, Joel- don't post very often, it adds weight to my theory that not much is happening.

Can you recommend a few acts for me? I'm just now digging Delta Spirit, if they count...

Joel @ Postmodern Sounds said...

I have two things to say: First, I think I probably did read to much into what you said. My biggest pet peeve of mainstream media coverage of alt country is this sort of article: and some New York Times writer isn't going to respond to my comments so it's easy to respond to a proxy, even if it may be misdirected.

I think we have a fundamental difference of semantics here. It seems to me that to you "alt country" means specifically the country-indie rock sound of Uncle Tupelo and its descendants and followers, such as locals Pendergast. But if I were to pick a local band that's still going strong in alt country, I'd pick Split Lip Rayfield or the Wilders, both of whom have excellent recent records. If we're only talking about the specific Uncle Tupelo/Pendergast sound, then I'd actually have to agree that it isn't what it used to be, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing because its only one part of a much larger music community that I think is still thriving by going in many other new directions (and 'cause I, quite frankly, and I know this might be heresy, was never really into the whole Jeff Tweedy sound and find it marginal at best to my definition of "alt country").

Second: You're right, I should write more. I don't have the drive to do it as much anymore, but that has much more to do with me than with the music. I started writing because there was really no one who audioblogged mostly or totally about alt country, but since then a bunch of people have started doing a lot better than I ever did:, Cover Lay Down, Setting the Woods on Fire.