The Gourd’s “Blood Of The Ram” (Eleven Thirty Records) is another hook-filled, genre mixing full-length album of highly listenable, if abstract nods to country, Cajun, folk, R & B and plain old rock and roll.
And, of course, they employ every instrument in their repertoire.
A truly great surreal American band, the Gourds’ disparate parts make a pretty impressive whole. Kevin Russell has the most authentic Texas twang and a slightly bent approach to songwriting which contrasts very nicely with Max Johnson’s Appalachian yodel, and then there’s Jimmy Smith’s . . . well, whatever you want to call it.
This one kicks off with “Lower 48”: an accordion and fiddle-driven homage to the country at large with wickedly clever couplets and ends with a roll-call of the States.
Russell sounds particularly strong on this record, but Smith scores a few as well.
Even the two songs that sound like he tossed them off pretty quickly, “Wired Old Gal” and “Let Him In” have a tendency to grow on you.
"Escalade" is a Memphis soul-drenched number that has Russell channeling Al Green and delivering a sarcastic look at the futility of even trying to be concerned with global warming.
"Illegal Oyster" is a Jimmy Smith effort with a slow plucking banjo and theramin sounding saw.
"Arapaho" has Russell mixing up some very strange religious imagery with some terrific lines like:
“When in analog Rome, do as the analog Romans do.”
But the album really gets rolling after Max Johnson’s single effort “On Time”
“Do For You” is another stomping Kevin Russell accordion throw-down and “Cracklins" is a hooky little story about a very unlikely bank robbery and the perpetrator’s even more unlikely escape.
But the real highlight is the title cut, which tells another tall tale in a decidedly Waylon Jennings style with heavy bass-lines and steel guitar, this time about a randy sheep who’s blood washes away the whole town when it’s slaughtered.
The album ends with one of Smith’s more annoying songs in concert, but the studio version redeems itself with a particularly funny sample inserted near the end.
Typically crazy stuff from these white motherfuckers, but it seems to get better with each subsequent listen.