Bolsa De Agua

Sugar Hill

Austin, Texas is home to this eclectic Americana outfit who brings together rock, country and Cajun music in an often-tasty stew. On this, their fifth album, songwriters Kev Russell and Jimmy Smith are joined by alt-country multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston (Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Freakwater), keyboard player Claude Bernard, and drummer Keith Langford. The songs touch occasionally on religion, as on “Jesus Christ,” a nicely harmonized mandolin and accordion-tinged toe tapper. “O Rings” and “Tearbox” are two pretty, waltz-like ballads. Album closer “High Highs and Low Lows” is a terrific, unexpected, loping rocker that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Waco Brothers or Alejandro Escovedo record. Occasionally, the band works a sort of Lynyrd-Skynyrd-by-way-of-the-Bottle-Rockets territory, as on the opening “El Paso” (not the Marty Robbins song). A couple of tracks, “Meet Off the Bone” and “Hallelujah Shine,” lay on the cornpone a bit too thick. And “Flamenco Cabaret” is dull alt-country with a tuneless vocal. But “Layin’ Around the House” sounds different from anything else on the record. At times, it recalls ’80s INXS. Weird, but interesting.

Sugar Hill Records, P.O. Box 55300, Durham, NC 27717-5300; http://www.sugarhillrecords.com/

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