Billed as an expanded edition of the previously issued Shinebox, this release finds The Gourds doing what they do best: rocking out. Their press literature bills them as a trainwreck of The Replacements, The Pogues, Townes Van Zant, and Snoop Dogg, and this is a fair assessment. While their music nestles in the grooves of “Americana” with their embrace of mandolins, fiddles, accordions, and banjos, this is a very loose appellation. The sound they conjure up is ferocious, it is fun, and it is vital. I know of very few bands that could tame and bridle so many disparate influences and sound and manage to weld them all into a coherent whole. This is precisely what The Gourds do.
The album kicks off with a studio version of their take on Snoop Dogg’s “Gin And Juice.” At just under seven minutes in length, their rendition is fun, fast, and strangely true to the original. This follows in short order by covers of songs by Nils Lofgren (“Everybody’s Missing the Sun”), and they eventually make their way to a cover of David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.”
While not a true album in the literal sense of the word, this was an EP originally issued that included live performances of theirs from a radio broadcast in Amsterdam. Expanded for a reissue on a new label, the songs include not only covers by favorite artists but also some traditional songs. This clever mix shows The Gourds’ comfort with both the old and new and demonstrates that what separates “pop” from “folk•” or “roots rock” need never be so wide as we like to imagine.
Sugar Hill Records, PO Box 55300, Durham, NC 27717