Sometimes Two Cow Garage vocalist Michah Schnabel
sounds like he's inhaled a little too much of those old automobile
fumes. Yep, his voice is that thrashed. But unlike Rod Stewart,
whose likable rasp has become his vocal trademark, Schnabel appears
to be playing with pain. If The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser
(another burnt-to-a-crisp-throat) and Schnabel ever sang a duet
together, it'd be like a suicide pact. Who'll be down to a mere
whisper first? (But that's another anti-fantasy scenario, for
Two Cow Garage is labeled an alt.country band, but it's clearly
not altogether loyal to the honky-tonks. Maybe this mislabeling
can be traced back to the word "Cow" in the middle of
its name; I don't know. "Camo Jacket", for instance,
is driven by a Replacements-esque urgency and "Gape
& Shudder" is fast 'n punky. "Epitaph", however,
is one of a few places where the band works out its strong Southern
rock urges. "Mediocre" stands out aurally most of all.
On it, Schnabel trades his sandpaper throat for a low, confident
voice. It's not quite the momentarily sexy Bob Dylan of
"Lay Lady Lay", but it's a welcome change from cringing
as his voice crumbles before our very ears.
This disc's highlight is one titled "No Shame." It's
all about "just getting up and walking away" from a
fight. These wise, non-fightin' words are placed over a jangle-y
For suburbanites, two cow garages are hardly the envy of most
honest Americans - except for, perhaps, farmers. And while there
ain't a whole lot of rural cow in these boys, this band nevertheless
creates plenty of pure an honest red-blooded rock. So ride 'em,
- Dan MacIntosh
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