Two Cow Garage - Speaking in Cursive (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Two Cow Garage

Speaking in Cursive (2008)

Suburban Home

I asked my 10th grade English teacher once for advice on writing, and she replied with the "write about what you know" cliché. Ah, and success it was; I walked away a different person with this newfound knowledge and planned on applying it to future written efforts. Later the other night, after immensely enjoying Two Cow Garage's Speaking in Cursive, I thought to myself: "Come on, Mike, you're punx; why listen to anyone?" So here I am writing about a subgenre of punk I have very little knowledge about and the chances of making an ass of myself are pretty high. As long as I have an opinion, it should make me somewhat qualified...I think.

Two Cow Garage plays, what I consider, whiskey-soaked punk and alternative country, and have been compared by others to Lucero and the Drive by Truckers. With Speaking in Cursive, the band shows dynamics ranging from loud, dirty overdrive to soft, palm-muted acoustic guitars and use it as a backdrop to raspy, sorrow-filled vocals.

As the bass line and pedal tone of the guitar on "Your Humble Narrator" ascends its way over steady rimshots, Micah Schnabel recalls "waking up to cassette tapes and ashtrays filled up from the night before," showing the use of country music's storytelling calling card. The quiet track builds with louder piano-accentuated chords and eventually harder snare hits until Schnabel's voice reaches a painfully grinding sound. Track 3, "Folksinger's Heart" is instrumentally one of the best tracks on the album; after a short organ solo, a bluesy, southern-tinged guitar lead bends its way into an acoustic re-visitation to the chorus. However, I'm a little hesitant to say that it's the "best" since the harmonicas, organs and keyboards layer almost all of their songs perfectly. "Glass City," whose vocals are provided by the band's other vocalist (who sounds a lot like a bassier Chuck Ragan), is more on the punkier side with heavy tom hits leading to a palm-muted post-chorus. Damn is "being afraid of living is just the same as dying" a cute line!

Unfortunately, after a long grouping of slower, somber songs, I almost wanted the closer to end with a rockin' bang. Instead, in the same fashion as the first song, "Swallowed by the Sea" is another slow song, but even shorter. With the exception of that, and the fact that "Funeral Drag" and "Brass Ring" sound very similar, I can't find much wrong with this record at all. It's a seemingly underrated record of heartbreak that I will, without hesitation, throw on when I am feeling down.