Two Guys – Recorded

Two Guys

This is Two Guys’ debut album. It’s called Recorded. The lack of time and effort put forth in naming this project and the album title is, unfortunately, indicative of the content. Which is a shame, really, because some of the songs included on this CD show potential and creativity. But neither the potential nor the creativity were exploited to their fullest extent, so the album comes off as an almost, but not quite, enjoyable listen.
Two Guys is Ryan and Cameron Jones, two brothers (duh) who live in Portland, OR. Ryan spent some time playing with San Diego band Pinback before reuniting with his bro’ in the City of Roses. Ryan wrote the songs and plays baritone guitar and sings. Cameron plays drums. They’re both good musicians, handling their instruments well. Ryan’s voice is vaguely whiny and nasal, and he has a tendency to slur his pronunciations, making it impossible to understand half of what he’s singing. Not a good thing. It also drains a lot of the emotion out of lyrics that are, by content, quite angsty. This, along with sometimes awkward dynamics and odd tempo changes, keeps you feeling slightly muddled and disappointed.
Every time a song approaches listenability, it somehow veers off into unknown territory again. Which is okay if the genre du jour is arty avant-garde musical compositions, or if you’re using the tactic as a technique to keep listeners on the hook, so to speak. That is not the case here. These are math-ish slacker-rock tunes with pop leanings. With a little time and effort, some of these songs could have been polished into really great tunes (as I said, there is potential), but that time and effort was not taken and opportunity was missed, I think. Ryan would be wise to spend time on honing his vocal delivery and phrasing. I think that Mr. Jones nails part of his problem in the lyrics to the song “TV”: “I’ve got a short attention span, I’m feeling stupid, feeling stupid….”
So where is the potential on this disc, you may ask? How can I write such a totally pessimistic review about this band and still claim that they show potential? The potential lies in the very last song on this record, titled “Another Chance to Fuck Up.” In a blinding stroke of irony, this is the song that wasn’t screwed up. It showcases everything about this band that’s good, and none of what’s bad. The guitar and drums perfectly lock together throughout, and the pop heart of the song is unmolested for the entire six minutes. The song breathes in the intro and verses and compacts during the chorus, pouring its bittersweet message forth in one forceful thrust.
With more efforts like this one, Two Guys could be releasing albums of indie-rock bliss instead of the half-hearted honey and venom mixture that came tumbling out on Recorded.