Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Jan. 27, 2006
Heavy Ornamentals (Eleven Thirty)Now eight albums in, the Gourds' Sabine River-centric mash of rock, country, swamp pop, Southern soul, and Zydeco continues packing a kinky good vibe. Over 13 languidly woven tracks, Heavy Ornamentals huffs and puffs with a beery-breathed, deeply rooted soul force that comes from a perfect storm of passion and prowess without pretension. "Declineometer" leads off with a twanged-up piss-take on the Midwestern sustenance rock rubric, but before you settle into it, Austin's Band has beamed itself from Minneapolis down to Acadiana for the accordion-infused groove of "Burn the Honeysuckle." Mick Taylor-era Stones is the springboard for "Mr. Betty," while Sir Doug gets his due on "Shake the Chandelier." The Gourds' penchant for colorful lyrical tangents is posted on "New Roommate," a laundry list of failed living arrangements, while live staple "Hooky Junk" and twisting "The Education Song" invite slurred sing-alongs with their good-natured R&B pedigrees before the mournful piano and fiddle of "Our Patriarch" swings the mood to wide open contemplation. "Pill Box Blues" is as close as Heavy Ornamentals gets to a straight-ahead country tune, and frankly, it's just as well. The one thing that'll never fit in the Gourds' big book of eclecticism is convention.