Like other bands that have managed to hang around almost intact for more than a decade, The Gourds have seen a certain predictability set in. The same consistency we see in their lineup is even more apparent in their work. Often compared to the unclassifiable roots music of Doug Sahm and the Band, the Gourds’ home brew of country-rock, soul, and Tex-Mex has never been successfully labeled. Heavy Ornamentals (Eleven Thirty), their latest, launches right in; bassist Jimmy Smith sings about something called a “declineometer” over a churning, infectious rhythm. Then there’s Kevin Russell’s funky hillbilly soul bash “Shake the Chandelier,” the slinky zydecolike “Hooky Junk,” and plenty of other weird and irresistibly joyous esoterica. It’s tempting to say this Austin group keeps getting better, but the truth is that these guys were pretty damn good to begin with.
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