The Gourds

Stadium Blitzer

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To the uninitiated, the title Stadium Blitzer is more likely to conjure up images of German metal music than Americana by way of Texas. Americana, however, complete with accordions and mandolins, is what the Gourds are all about. Originally recorded in 1997, this album received a wider 2001 release, thanks to the folks at Sugar Hill. The first thing one notes when delving into the Gourds music is the richness of their sound. Atmospheric, varied, and tasteful, Claude Bernard, Jimmy Smith, and Kevin Russell play multiple instruments and write their own material. A wonderful piece like "Raining in Port Arthur" brings to mind other Texas alumni like Terry Allen, while "Boil My Strings" may remind one of the Bad Livers. These varied sources all merge into a potent gumbo-like mixture, transcending their origins to create beautiful, jaunty tunes like "Lament" and "Plaid Coat." The band is equally apt at turning out rockers like "Magnolia," Tex-Mex like "Coppermine," and slightly off-kilter country like "When the Money Comes Rolling In." Call their approach eclectic. Both Bernard and Russell's vocals, separately and together, sound great. It would have been nice to have the printed lyrics to study over a cup of coffee, because these fellows do have something to say. But this isn't too big of a deal (an industrious person can find the lyrics at the Gourds' web page). Chances are, repeated listens inspired by the eclectic music on Stadium Blitzer will clarify any mysteries. The Gourds have made a fine album, deeply rooted and finely executed.

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