Gourds Blood of the Ram

Gourds Blood of the Ram
It stands to reason that purposely not having an image is still an image. But while the Gourds have always commanded respect as one of the best Americana outfits to come along in the last ten years, their completely unpretentious approach to their music has always somehow been a barrier to overcome in terms of mass popularity. Despite its ominous title, Blood of the Ram probably won’t change that situation, although it is another instantly lovable stew of country-rock, zydeco and a variety of sounds both traditional and off-the-wall. As with prior triumphs like Bolsa De Agua and Cow Fish Fowl or Pig, the recording is gloriously live in the studio, with the vocals of Kevin Russell and Jimmy Smith raggedly blending like the Band in their heyday. Standout tracks are "Triple T Gas,” with its rollicking organ borrowed directly from the Sir Douglas Quintet’s Augie Meyers, and "On Time,” a rare contribution from multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston, who continues to be the Austin crew’s secret weapon. While it’s true that most Americana releases have to contain serious themes in order to get noticed outside of their immediate fans, few bands emit such pure joy as the Gourds when it comes to practicing their art. You can join the party just as easily by picking up this album. (Eleven Thirty)