Nearly a dozen albums (including side projects) into a career still less than a decade old, the Gourds remain one of a kind, and remarkably consistent. Their good-timing, mostly acoustic music, in which harmonicas cozy up to accordions and brittle mandolins emulate banjos, is tonally and texturally backwoods rural without being escapist or nostalgic, and it's always danceable. The vocal harmonies of Jimmy Smith and Kevin Russell are like burnished leather that retains just enough roughness. Then there's their trailer-park beatnik verse, which revels in ribaldry, fanciful wordplay and surreal colloquialisms; the songs are in the classic American tall tale and storytelling tradition, as re-imagined by free-associating postmodernists on a weed-and-cheap-wine bender. "Lower 48" could be a travelogue by guys who've logged hundreds of thousands of miles in the van or it could be an uneasy commentary on this election season — or both ("Florida shakes in the mystery of numbers/ Pan handlers cookin 'them road kill wings/ Texas drinks from 1100 springs/ Cottonmouth and the copperhead are king"). Even when antecedents seem apparent — Al Green on "Escalade," Waylon Jennings on the title song — they sound like nobody but the Gourds. And that's a mighty fine way to sound.
By John Morthland on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Gourds will be Gourds, and they certainly are on this, their ninth album. But be prepared for a few surprises, too. The opening "How Will You Shine?" kicks off with a tinkly mandolin (doubling the piano) right out of Rod...
By Wayne Robins on 01.06.09 in Reviews
The first time I glanced at the song titles of the Gourds 'new Haymaker!, I thought, "Cool, a tune called 'Courtney Love.'" Having made the cover version Hall of Fame years ago with their perfect bl...
By Robert Ham on 02.25.15 in Features
From Shania Twain to Patrick Wolf, these musicians couldn't leave well enough alone and rerecorded their work.
By Jewly Hight on 02.23.15 in Features
"I take the country songs, because they're the only ones left now with any real meaning, and I redo them more R