A Giant Sand album is like a backyard BBQ with an old friend of yours who can be a little crazy, but is always ready to refill your glass and has a few meandering but entertaining stories to tell.
Howe Gelb may not be be Joe Ely, but he has influenced a literal ton or two of bands you have grown up on, simply by singing his sloppy best and covering tracks like "Is That All There Is?" with punk-authenticity (if not austerity). Like any Giant Sand record, proVISIONS will not beat the masses into realizing that the polished pillars of alt-country art-pop like Wilco or even the ferocious creativity and performance skills of an Old 97s are merely contenders. But this new album will make old fans happy and give a little jolt of the real to those who thought they knew the kerosine-twang.
Speaking of like-minded fanbases, Neko Case and M. Ward and Isobel Campbell guest here, among others, and on the album's strongest tracks ("Can Do (Girl)," "Desperate Kingdom of Love," and "Muck Machine") they can be heard chiming in with respect for their messed-up medicine man garage-western music guru along with steady and effortless-sounding bandmates T. T. Lund on bass, Anders Pedersen on slide guitar, and Peter Dombernowsky (drums). All of whom are from Denmark, and are all proud to be doing these 13 tracks "on the fly," as Gelb likes it that way too.