Haymaker! (Yep Roc)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Jan. 23, 2009
The GourdsHaymaker! (Yep Roc)
Few acts can make the tenacity of merely surviving sound celebratory, so maybe the Gourds really were made for these times. The local quintet's 10th studio offering is polished and direct but still distinctly and eclectically Gourdian, from the growling New Orleans blues-funk of "The Way You Can Get" to the weary, slurring, back-porch banjo of "Hey Thurman." Yet the Gourds have always been as aesthetically outside the norm as they are stylistically unique, and Haymaker! revels in a mad world, whether exuberantly escaping it on kickoff "Country Love" or rocking the breadline on "New Dues." The loping "All the Way to Jericho" winds Kevin "Shinyribs" Russell's rough verses into a wistfully poppy chorus, and the keepin' on mentality of "Shreveport" cuts Cajun to a methamphetamine trucker rush. Misfits and outcasts abound, from the hitchhiking Corpus activist in "Bridgett" to the outsourced and unemployed of "Luddite Juice," though the Gourds take on impending hardship with the determined wink of a hurricane party. The raucous "Six Days on the Road" rip of "Tex-Mex Mile" serenades South Congress' seedy side, but closer "Tighter" encapsulates the joy of fleeting victories, even if "All yer left with's a record and a past kinda checkered." (CD release: Friday, Jan. 30, Antone's.)
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