Do you remember a little while back, I reviewed an EP by a Chicago punk band called Tens? You don’t? Well first of all, you need to read that review and then listen to that EP, just so you’re up to date. Done that? Good. Because this, sisters and brothers, is the second serving, and don’t pretend you want to get down from the table just yet.
Ryan Smith from that band is also in Two Houses, along with some fellas by the names of Mike Boren and Dave Satterwhite. Now, these guys are a bit of a different prospect, and by that I don’t mean they’re any less good, but they sound different. This is less a punk rock thing and more a hard-rocking emo deal. If Samiam, The Replacements or The Hold Steady push your buttons then, well, you’re going to need a lot of buttons.
Two Houses, much like Tens, sounds like music written by guys who know how to have a good time and would get you drunk at a party, but at that party they’d also chew your ear off about all your favourite bands. The music has this warm, embracing atmosphere and is intelligently structured. The vocals are clear, crisp and earnest. Opening number ‘Geicsman’s Youth’ speaks of taking charge of your life and straight out enjoying it. Get this: “I wake up every morning and I thank God for these calloused hands, these lungs full of smoke and oxygen.”
OK so they can write lyrics, but these boys aren’t afraid to take the bass for a walk either. They’re as comfortable letting the song breathe and letting their instruments do the talking as they are at putting words to music. The mellow melodies and warm guitar sounds of ‘Kanye West Doesn’t Care About Chicago’ tell you most things you need to know about Two Houses. It’s music of craft and passion.
They describe themselves as ‘triumphant sad bastard music’ and they couldn’t have put it any better. When I think about it there’s a triumphant sad bastard in most people I know…all wonderful, talented and full of heart but mostly spending their days doing something they don’t want to do for someone they don’t know. I know a great deal of people who could relate to wonderful EP closer ‘Dude, Peyton Manning’ as they sing “I’m getting pretty good at Microsoft Excel and all my heroes when I was younger just over-grown boys”. Wow, nailed it.
If I had any criticisms for these guys it would probably be something like, “Wow, you guys are in a lot of bands, you need to make your minds up!” because I think they might have another band they do so that’s like, three bands. But then I wouldn’t say it because this stuff is what makes the world go round. Either way, if you think soul-warming rock by fun-loving dudes sounds like your thing, then this is your thing.
– Alex Phelan