Judging from their name, the members of Two Cow Garage don’t take themselves too seriously.
But judging from their new album, The Wall Against Our Back, they do take their mission seriously, and that mission is to rock the poop out of anyone within earshot.
The Columbus, Ohio, band’s three-year history has been a busy one, with the release of a well-received independent debut, 2002’s Please Turn the Gas Back On, and two years touring the Eastern U.S. to sell it. Despite their relative youth, with three members still in their early 20s, these guys don’t like to waste time.
“We just decided we were going to tour heavily and do everything we could so we weren’t just another local band here in Columbus,” says Chris Flint, the group’s manager, part-time guitarist and elder statesman at age 30. “We played plenty of shitty shows, Tuesday nights in back-ass Alabama, but we figured if somebody’s willing to give us a show just because we put out a record on our own, we’re gonna do it, wherever it is.”
Indianapolis audiences might remember a couple of those appearances, when the band traded shows with the like-minded though now defunct local ensemble Citizens Band.
Now Two Cow Garage is back on the road, starting a tour that will take them from coast to coast and over to Europe in the next few months, including a stop Thursday at the Melody Inn. The occasion is a brand new second album produced by Brent Best, leader of the acclaimed Texas roots-rock band Slobberbone.
Two Cow’s blend of country, punk and classic rock is nothing radically innovative, but few bands do it with such solid songwriting or this level of infectious, reckless abandon. Critics often cite revered names like Uncle Tupelo and the Replacements for comparison.
While the first album was a decidedly alt-country venture with its banjos, steel guitars and such, the new release is a crashing, hissing piledriver of a rock ’n’ roll record, its tone set by the ragged vocals and massive power chords of guitarist and chief songwriter Micah Schnabel. Having honed the songs on the road, the band managed to record and mix The Wall Against Our Back in less than two weeks.
“The new one’s more indicative of us playing live,” says bass player Shane Sweeney. “Brent [Best] is awesome, and he really knew us as a band and as people, and we sort of had the same idea about making it sound like our live show.”
There’s still plenty of twang amid the noise, however, and the album’s hard luck stories are pure Americana. The band will never lose its country heart, Flint says.
“We’re not trying to get rid of it. We are who we are,” he says. “We’re four fellows from the Midwest.”
Scott Hall writes about music and stuff at www.onthebeat.org.