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Heavy Ornamentals

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Album Review

The Gourds have been relentlessly spewing up quality records that challenge the conventions of both country and pop music with equal parts earnestness and irreverence for over a decade. Bandleaders Kevin Russell and Jimmy Smith write hyper-literate songs that challenge even the most learned grad student while retaining enough "good old boy" idioms to placate the piss-drunk yahoo tapping his mirrored shades against the end of the bar. Their eighth full-length album, Heavy Ornamentals, doesn't stray far from the "juke joint in Samuel Clemens' brain" aesthetic that drove career highs like Stadium Blitzer and Ghosts of Hallelujah into alternative country hearts around the world. Recorded all analog in order to capture every note — mistakes are left in to add to the authenticity — Ornamentals is both their truest and most raw release in some time. Russell provides his usual mix of heartfelt Texas poetry — try the achingly gorgeous "Our Patriarch" — while Smith remains the well-read deviant opining on everything from gassy roommates to a local forecaster — "Do you think it rains when my weather girl cries/I sh*t you not it's softball size." The Gourds are peerless avatars of pop culture, referencing everything from Schoolhouse Rock! ("Decline-O-Meter") to Star Trek ("Pick and Roll") — in the latter, Smith announces, "Hey, your Romulan ale is flat," then manages to work in a reference to original Catwoman Eartha Kitt and an Empire Strike Back quote ("I thought they smelled bad on the outside"). By now, anyone who boarded the train with 1997's Dem's Good Beeble has a pretty high tolerance for the band's many eccentricities, and will likely give Heavy Ornamentals the two or three spins it requires to permeate their own gourds, but for those just getting on, a trip back in time may better prepare them for the wild ride ahead.

Customer Reviews

Don’t pick and choose. “Pick & Roll” baby.

It’s tough to do them justice but here she blows. “Genre: Rock” about sums it up… no… not really… Shucks Peter not at all! You can’t pin these slippery eels down. They defy definition and we like it that way. Heavy Ornamentals, like all their albums, is essential to comprehending the band as a whole. Here are some new favorites: “Pick & Roll” for beginners, “Collection’s Getting” for the casual and “Our Patriarch” for the seasoned vet. A Piano! What’s going on? I don’t know but you’ll want to chug this delectable decanter ‘o fun. (Yes, one needs a thesaurus to write a Gourds Review.) Of course, what’s not to like about “Shake the Chandelier.” In this song, you may notice an underlying tribute to Doug Sahm’s “She’s About a Mover.” How cool is that! This album should leave everybody at the table satiated. Enjoy. And if you have the chance to see the Gourds live, don’t skimp on the gravy. Sure it’s fattening but heck, that’s some tasty vittles!

Best album ever

I had this album for over a year before I ever listened to it. I got it from a friend at a party and totally forgot about it. I realize now that that is a year I will never get back. I love this album from start to finish. It is in such heavy rotation that my kids a starting to know the lyrics. The typically quirky lyrics, hook-filled rhythms, and downhome sensibility have galvanized Heavy Ornamentals as not only one of my favorite albums of all time, but surely one of the best of ever.

Never Disappointed -

From a long time Gourds fan I can easily say these guys never disappoint. Kevin and the fellas have forgotten more about making good roots music than most will ever know. If you're a Gourds fan - you already have it.....if you arent a fan - get with the program, hop on board, and get ready for some real good time music.


Formed: 1992 in Austin, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Gourds are a good-time, honky tonkin' band with enough quirk and underground appeal to justify the "alternative" tag in "alternative country-rock." Part of Austin's vibrant scene and popular performers at the city's national music showcase SXSW, the Gourds first gained the attention of the No Depression crowd with the drunken porch jam sound of their debut, Dem's Good Beeble, in 1997. The band's quirks came out more on its follow-up, 1998's Stadium Blitzer, with songs of questionable subject...
Full Bio
Heavy Ornamentals, The Gourds
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Customer Ratings


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