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15
4.1 out of 5 stars
Shinebox
Format: Audio CDChange
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
The buzz seems to be focused on the stunning, hilarious remake of Snoop Dogg's Gin and Juice, but there is much more here to catch the ear. For starters, the clever "Everbody's Missing the Sun" is a modern working and partying person's lament. And the live versions of songs you might already have such as "Lament," "Maria," or "Plaid Coat" showcase the Gourds cuttin' loose (of course, these guys are the epitome of loose).
Now if you have never heard the Gourds before, listen to the samples for their songs before you buy any of their CDs. Their Texas style Gonzo rock grass whatever the hell this style is might not be your thing. But I think the Gourds are America's greatest working band. They will try about anything, and their rendition of "Ziggy Stardust" zones in somewhere between tongue in cheek and serious.
It's not just the fine singin', guitar, B-3 organ, fiddle, banjo, slide, drums, and percussion that make this music so potent. It's the way it all comes together, sometimes unexpectedly (like a stew). You may not like the first taste, but you will keep at it and ultimately come back for more Gourds.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2002
This is the best CD I've heard in years! The remake of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice" is an underground classic. It's not just hilarious: It's damned fine bluegrass music. If it wasn't for the lyrics, you'd never know that it was originally a rap song about South Central L.A., but that's what makes it interesting and gives it depth. It's not about broken hearts and the usual dreary stuff that country songs are about. Who would think that some white boys from Austin could take that song, countrify it and make it a head-bobbing, foot-stomping, singing-out-loud joy to listen to? But they did. The rest of the CD is excellent, too, but I must admit: I bought it for "Gin and Juice," and I'm very happy I did. When I give this CD to friends, they're floored. One of them told me today that he can't stop playing it over and over again.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2003
The Gourds dig into the roots of American music with a greater, more expansive enthusiasm than anybody since the Band. Shinebox is an odds and ends collection, featuring 5 live tracks and assorted covers. The covers range from old traditionals ("Dooley", "Jones Oh Jones", "I'm Troubled") and expected contemporary twangers (Townes Van Zandt's "Two Girls", Billie Joe Shaver's "Omaha") to the left field additions of Nils Lofgren ("Everybody's Missing the Sun") and the gasp-inducing inclusion of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" and Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice". The latter brilliantly combines 100 years of music, offhandedly proving the similar bloodlines of modern hip hop and hillbilly jug bands. It's an unbelievably profound statement, and the fact that the Gourds toss it off with an irreverent ease only reinforces their genius.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
It's easy to focus on the falling-down-funny cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin & Juice" that opens this album. There's plenty to love, from the jangling mandolin to the resonant twang in the vocals to the yodel that ends the track. But to focus purely on that one song is to miss the wide rainbow of musical virtuosity and gallows humor that permeates the entire CD.

About half this album was previously released as an EP recorded in front of a live audience for broadcast on European radio. This half of the album consists of mostly new material, songs like "Maria" and the rousing rock-grass "Lament." Like most of the Gourds' work, these tracks combine styles, overlapping rock and country and bluegrass and blues and whatever else to create a sound proprietary to the Gourds themselves. The banter between the audience and the band is in short supply, but what there is, is punchy and direct. To judge by these live tracks, the Gourds are one of the better live bands playing out there today.

For the full-length CD, the original EP is fleshed out with studio tracks, mostly covers. In addition to "Gin & Juice," they hit Nils Lofgren's "Everybody's Missing The Sun," Townes Van Zandt's "Two Girls," and perhaps most eye-openingly, "Ziggy Stardust," the David Bowie classic. None of these sound quite like the original. Though they aren't as startlingly distinct as "Gin & Juice," they are just different enough to force you to sit up and pay close attention to what's being said. If you can listen to these cover versions and come away without a new way of looking at the content of these songs, well, you might want to get your hearing checked.

Not everyone will like the Gourds. Their sound defies categorization, and people who like their tunes to fit into neat little boxes will only be frustrated. Bluegrass purists may cringe at a rocker like "Trampled By the Sun" or a weird little swing-style number like "Jones Oh Jones." They force you as the listener to come to them as the musicians. Casual and flippant listeners will get sick of that investment pretty quickly.

But if you're an active listener with inclusive tastes, you may find this album right up your street. It has a great spark that more slick, popular artists seem to lack, and it's truly inventive. It has been in heavy repeat on my CD player for over a year, and it will wind up in the same honored position on yours if you just give it one good solid listen.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2003
I travelled 4 hours to see my first Gourds concert after having missed them here in Houston. Lemme tell ya, there ain't no finer live show for the lovers of classic texas country or progressive alt-country. Excepting the drummer, every one of the buggers plays at least one other instrument, and I think they play 3 apiece, but I was imbibing and dancing. Who knows. They are deliciously talented, musically tight and professional, and varied in their lyrical content. One of the songwriters is a staunch, small-town republican in the best of Texas' tradition and the other is a irreverently playful opportunist, wistful and surreal. Oh, it's good stuff. The Gin and Juice thing overshadows their talent and potential, but hey, it got them noticed. They don't have a bad album, but get dems good beeble or Cow Fish Foul or Pig first. This one save for when you've forgotten the damnable Gin and Juice and are jonesing for another fine album by the amazing and underappreciated Gourds. They're intellectuals with accordians and banjos, how much better does it get?
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on September 8, 2006
I love this album, but I've got to give it 4 stars because of the lack of original material. I've already got a ton of live stuff (get the Best of Boots series!) and I enjoyed the remakes, but I'd rather hear their original song writing. Best tracks are Omaha, Plaid Coat, Lament and of course, Gin and Juice.
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on February 24, 2014
Country rock bluegrass. It's got it all. Gin & Juice (snoop dogs) is worth the price of admission. Everybody s missing the sun is upbeat. Dooley is hardcore bluegrass. Zingy Stardust (Bowie) is outstanding. Need I say more. This group deserve to move up the rank of great bands. Enjoy it.
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on October 17, 2007
I really enjoy the first two songs on the album, they are fantastic--the cover of "Gin and Juice" is a classic--but as the album progresses, I find myself liking it less and less. The singing on the live songs later in the album leaves something to be desired.
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on May 7, 2013
much better than the original by Snoop Dogg. The arrangement and production is great with a blue grass flare. It is a favorite of our boys weekend fishing trip. Careful listening when around small children
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on March 30, 2009
I first heard this group on XM Outlaw Country. I couldn't wrap my brain around a country version of Gin and Juice. Once I listened to the whole CD I got it!
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