Gourds, Eagle Eye WIlliamson, Colin Gilmore | Martyrs' | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader

Gourds, Eagle Eye WIlliamson, Colin Gilmore Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., Nov. 19, 9 p.m. 2011

It's fitting, and perhaps long overdue, that Austin's Gourds recorded their new album, Old Mad Joy (Vanguard), at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York. The facility is, natch, owned by Levon Helm, the great drummer and singer for the Band—an outfit the Gourds seem to resemble more with each record. Longtime Bob Dylan sideman and guitarist Larry Campbell produced, and got the group to deliver more polished, full-bodied performances (especially the elaborate vocal harmonies) while maintaining their creaky, rootsy exuberance. Even though the Gourds' songwriting lacks the resonance and depth of their forebears, they've never sounded more assured and fluid in traversing a huge swath of American sounds: from the gospel-driven "I Want It So Bad" (where singer Kevin Russell sounds more like Helm than ever) to the giddily galloping garage rock of "Drop the Charges" to the beautiful ballad "Two Sparrows," which echoes the melody of Bob Dylan's "I Threw It All Away." Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Smith writes songs that tend toward the absurd (couplets like "Locomotive halitosis / All that eyelid I been smokin'" sound cool, but scan like a string of Scrabble words), and the Gourds often display an unfortunate affinity for jam-band antics (their crowds tend to do a lot of mindless whooping and beer-bottle hoisting), but the records are still great. —Peter Margasak Eagle Eye Williamson and Colin Gilmore open.

Price: $15

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