Gourds Shinebox

The latest from the Gourds, Shinebox serves best as an introduction to the band for the uninitiated. Featuring covers, live stuff and originals, you get an idea of where they're from musically, what they're like and what they can do. Like a lot of alt-country artists, the various band members hail from the punk/alternative sect of the indie music scene from back in the day. As with most albums like this, Shinebox is spotty. Opening with Snoop Doggy Dog's "Gin & Juice" may not have been such a wise move, since it sounds like the latest "white trash Southern rock" shtick. Likewise with the cover of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" - some songs just don't translate. Then there are pop-gem saviours like Nils Lofgren's "Everybody's Missing The Sun" and the various live tracks that entice you to pay out to see if they pay off. Similarly, Shinebox may make you search out their other three releases, Stadium Blitzer, Ghosts of Hallelujah (re-released on Sugar Hill) and Bolsa De Agua (debuted on the label). Then again, you may just be happy with the lukewarm introduction and leave with that cuter guy you met earlier at the party. (Sugar Hill)