The Gourds are obsessed with food. Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say that the Gourds are obsessed with anything that can be consumed.
Consider “Burn the Honeysuckle,” in which Kevin Russell sings of marrying a woman “raised on mustard green and beer” and blessed/cursed with “skin like tobacco and eyes like wine.” This kind of imagery pops up repeatedly in the Gourds catalog, and even the band’s website bio contends that they “seem to let the music fry just long enough before they turn it over and brown it on the other side.” In retrospect, the group’s most famous track, a cover of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin & Juice,” probably just appealed to them because it hit them where it mattered most: the taste buds.
Fri, March 10
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Austin’s greatest contemporary gift to American roots music, the Gourds are a critics’ favorite that even contrarians can’t hate. The reason is that for all their literary signposts and artsy touches, they’re too visceral, too tactile to succumb to pretentiousness. They make gather-round-the-frying-pan music loaded with poetry, but with little use for poetic abstractions.
The group’s eighth album, Heavy Ornamentals, again finds the Gourds trampling over all musical boundaries and skillfully exploiting the complementary songwriting talents of Russell and Jimmy Smith. Highlights include the boisterous Tex-Mex stomper “Shake The Chandelier,” a heartfelt tribute to the Sir Douglas Quintet (and a near-dead-ringer for “She’s About a Mover”) and the slow, haunting “Our Patriarch.” This group’s sustained excellence can make them easy to take for granted, but Heavy Ornamentals reminds us that they haven’t yet approached the limits of their rustic vision. •