Like Uncle Tupelo and the Mekons, the Gourds play gorgeously ramshackle, rootsy rock 'n' roll with a surfeit of heart and style. On Haymaker! the Texas quintet evokes early albums by the Band, jumbling the essences of honky-tonk, zydeco, and bluegrass with droll lyrics and rough-hewn harmonies. “Tex-Mex Mile” recalls the Mekons' “country” period with a rollicking highway melody and cliché-inverting lyrics. The fiddle-driven “Bridgett” takes on trendy-lefty politics (“She had El Che on her T-shirt/Sure, I'll talk Bay of Pigs”), and the melancholy closer “Tighter” bears its romantic disillusionment on the wings of a glistening, ringing guitar motif.
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