You can tell a lot about rock bands from their idols, the bellwethers by which they measure their own visions: Uncle Tupelo had Neil Young, Tom Petty had Dylan, the Beatles had Motown, and the Rolling Stones had Muddy Waters. Two Cow Garage
has Slobberbone. Maybe the band ought to aim higher, but where else is a gang of Ohio slackers, with their wretchedly overdriven amps, sweaty flannel flailings, rotten-rotgut voices and inescapable twang to turn but to Brent Best, the 'Bone's lead architect, manic spewer of tortured, electrified Americana? Turns out Best is hella producer: Two Cow's second album, The Wall Against Our Back
, hurls itself miles ahead of its predecessor via Best's sharp and concentrated live production, with Micah Schnabel's vocals pushed forward and guitars howling along, all in love with dead-end dreams, sweet vendettas and local girls who, like them, will never be cool enough for the big city. The new songs flicker with the honesty and rage of pent-up confessions, like votive candles to St. Young and St. Westerberg. It's not country music, but it will ring your ears and rock your doubts away.