Few bands embody the incongruities of the Austin music scene like the Gourds. They sound rootsy, but their lyrics are surreal and their influences are all over the place. Kevin Russell is considered the more straightforward of the band’s two primary songwriters, but even his tunes range from crowd-pleasing name-droppers to hyperliterate mash-ups, and the Gourds can’t accommodate them all. Enter SHINYRIBS, Russell’s side project. The band’s debut, WELL AFTER AWHILE (Nine Mile), is less musically quirky than the Gourds’ records; though the instrumentation is similar, the sparse arrangements bring Russell’s powerful vocals to the fore. But any of these songs would (and probably will) work just fine in a Gourds set list. The album is akin to the haphazard collage that adorns its cover: “Who Built the Moon” plays like a children’s fable, “Shores of Galilee” dabbles in spiritualism, “East TX Rust” sounds like Funkadelic meets Flatt and Scruggs, and a heated cover of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” wraps things up. It’s a charismatic pastiche that Russell manages to make sound effortless.
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