Here are some initial impressions on my recent acquisitions. This is the first time I used Amazon’s Marketplace Sellers (for all but the Gourds)–it worked out great.

Family, The Del McCoury Band. I knew I wanted another Del McCoury CD because I had enjoyed his stuff so much on Steve Earle’s The Mountain and McCoury’s Del and the Boys. So, I was looking forward to this arrival and it did not disappoint. I haven’t listened to it enough to know which I like more, but I’ve heard enough to know it will be close. The music is straight bluegrass and it is very, very good. I’m going to have to add the rest of Del’s catalog to my wish list.

Cow Fish Fowl or Pig, The Gourds. This one is the biggest surprise of the group. I’ve heard a couple of Gourds tracks on Spinner and one of my co-workers is a big Gourds fan, but, honestly, I had no idea what to expect. From the first few notes of the opening track, My Name is Jorge, I knew I was in for a treat. I was instantly hooked. The music is a full and rich mix that’s a little hard to describe. I’d say start with an alternacountry base and then mix in some Phish and then sprinkle in a hint of Buckwheat Zydeco and you’d have a good start. Accordian, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, and a variety of other interesting instruments mix with quirky/intriguing lyrics to give you a CD you won’t want to take out of the changer.

89/93: An Anthology, Uncle Tupelo. I haven’t given this one the listen it deserves. It’s got my favorite tracks from Anodyne, a couple of previously unreleased tracks and a live version of We’ve Been Had. The album’s an easy way to pick up tracks from the UT albums no longer in print, but I think I’ll still wind up getting those used so I can enjoy each album in its entirety. The liner notes have a cool history of the band. Listening to the album reminds me how much I like Farrar and Tweedy.

Dog Days, Blue Mountain. A bit of an impulse buy. Amazon had recommended it a few years ago based on prior purchases but I skipped it at the time. I like it. It’s a mix of songs that vary between alternative country and those that are very bluesy. Some of the songs sort of remind me a bit of Whiskeytown.

Young Criminals’ Starvation League, Bobby Bare, Jr. Another pleasant surprise. I like the vocals–Bobby’s raspy voice is reminiscent of Paul Westerberg. On first listen, the album struck me as new and different–not your straight alternative country, although there are tracks with plenty of harmonica and steel guitar. For example, a couple of the tracks feature a horn section. Overall, another solid pick.

World Without Tears, Lucinda Williams. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was and still is my favorite Lucinda Williams album. That’s because most of my CD listening is in my car and that’s just a quintessential road album. When Essence came out, it struck me as extremely mellow–much too mellow for driving–but still a good album. This one feels like it is somewhere in the middle. It’s got a good mix of slow, quiet songs and out-and-out rockers. Moreso on this album than others of hers I own, this one conveys a serious amount of pain and anger expressed plainly/bluntly through her lyrics. Lucinda has never been one to mince words, but this one feels particularly raw. It works.

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