Artist - Two Gallants
Album - What The Toll Tells
Label - Saddle Creek
What the White Stripes started, and The Black Keys dirtied up, is moved on by Two Gallants. Guitar and drummer, voice and harmonica, stripping wild rock blues and country punk to its raw essentials and turning up the noise like Animal from the Muppets backing a combination of Jimmy Page and Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes.
The intensity throughout What The Toll Tells is riveting, as it was on the debut, The Throes, which made 2005's Top 20 albums in this column and at Rough Trade record store, but here they have stepped up the hooks and maturity. Where the music slows to balladry, the stories have the timbre of Johnny Cash. It's unusual for production to leave this kind of intensity within a CD, but the move up to a major label has brought with it the production of Tiny Telephone studios, which clearly understands the draw of this duo. Shockingly, abrasively excellent. Place booked for 2006's Best Album list already.
Adult Contemporary Essentials