Record Review - 3 October 02 2002

The Gourds are not your typical anything — which makes them a typical Austin band. Brilliant musicians who all play a variety of instruments and possess irreverent senses of humor, they call their style "music for the unwashed and well read." It's an apt enough description of their witty, unorthodox fusion of folk, bluegrass and Band-inspired roots rock.

This 17-song (plus a hidden track) magnum opus is essentially broken into two parts: "The Cow Brings Home the Fish" and "The Fowl Tells the Pig of Each Transgression." And between Parts 1 and 2, there's an intermission — "Short Guy Spiritual Rap," an almost-three-minute rant by some character (identified as "Short Guy From Chi-Town") they met outside a cantina in Arkansas, who goes on about how God cleansed him of drugs and gangs.

As for the rest of the album, Kev Russell and Jimmy Smith do most of the songwriting, and newcomer Max Johnson throws in a couple of mandolin-drenched chestnuts. While the songs were written individually, they sound more like the product of the band sitting around a campfire, downing PBRs and passing around various stringed instruments until dawn. How else to explain lyrics like, "Said the apple to the snake, you're erotic forks are fake"?

The Gourds play Smith's Olde Bar Tues., Oct. 8.??