For a decade, the band has remained one of Austin's most unusual and reliable musical exports. The Gourds' members present their music in familiar roots-rock wrappings, yet nothing about these songs is typical. Cheating hearts or lovesick blues don't dominate the band's landscape; instead, this is a brainy and obtuse bunch, with songs that reflect the fact. It's a weird juxtaposition that could prove disastrous in the wrong hands, yet with The Gourds, it seems as natural as breathing.
Since The Gourds' members made one of their first recordings in KUT's Studio 1A back in 1995, there's always a sense of homecoming when they return. I had dragged them on to KUT back then, which I rarely do with a brand-new band. But you could immediately sense how special they were, how the chemistry of Kevin Russell's easy-flowing countrified melodies blended with Jimmy Smith's more serpentine works. Even after 10 albums and hundreds of shows, little has changed since. They're still full of enthusiasm and great ideas, not to mention a good amount of piss and vinegar.
The five songs in this session — two by Smith, two by Russell and one by former Wilco and Uncle Tupelo member Max Johnston — all come from The Gourds' new CD, Haymaker! The disc represents another solid effort in a long, unbroken string of them. But to me, the albums have always been beside the point. The best bands are almost telepathic; they make magic that only comes from their unique combination of talents. In performance is where this band truly shines. I've sat in Studio 1A with a lot of amazing musicians, but it's not often that you feel like you're witness to a one-of-a-kind musical moment. I had mine here, and I bet you will, too.
Listen to the previous Favorite Session, or see our full archive.