You can’t write anything about Gomez without mentioning that their debut album Bring It On won the Mercury Music Prize but 10 years on, A New Tide finds them on a new label and is a bit of a fresh start.
Mercury win created a commercial, if not musical, millstone around their neck thus creating the saying “do a Gomez” meaning “to release a debut album so successful and to such unanimous praise that expectations are raised to the point where it is impossible to follow it”.
So the follow-ups Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline, Split The Difference, How We Operate have been largely for the die hard fan base (that include a certain Karen P) but I don’t know whether it’s listening to Carlos Nino‘s Spaceways show as he’s been playing lots of West Coast county rock (the whole CSNY, Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young family), but the opening track ‘Mix’ is an instant winner and there’s some serious tracks on here that get quite addictive, especially the country rock of ‘Little Pieces’, the folky ‘Other Plans’ and the sub-ska-pop-rock of ‘If I Ask You Nicely’.
Considering the band are from various parts of northern England, they’ve clearly spent quite some time in the U.S. as the Soundgarden-like vocals of Ian Ball are now near perfectly toned into country/blues and the pop-rock harmonies are spot on. Not only that, they’ve managed to feature guest musicians like the much sort after sax of Stuart Bogie (who spends most of his time with New York’s Afrobeat warriors, Antibalas), the equally in demand session cellist Oliver Krauss (who has credits with Paul Weller, Tracy Thorn, Duffy and last scene on FLY early this month on Iain Archer’s To The Pine Roots album), bassist Josh Abrams and vocalist with Broken Social Scene and Stars, Amy Millan.
In fact, Krauss makes ‘Lost Track’ and the psyhedelic ‘Win Park Slope’ that is at the blues rock end of a Arthur Russell influence and it’s worth waiting for the last track ‘Sunset Gates’; although it’s a great shame it’s pych-out is so short at the end, it could easily got into free-jazz-shoegazingesque thrash.
Like the title says A New Tide, is not so much a washing away of what they’ve done before but a more mature Gomez with more life experiences and influences. This week’s Guardian said of A New Tide, “is a respectable affair reminiscent of the Beta Band at best (‘Airstream Driver’) and David Gray at its coffee-table worst, courtesy of vocalist Ian Ball’s folksy bleat.”; that’s sounds like a journo having a bad day to me, David Gray! I see what he means on ‘Bone Tired’ and ‘Natural Reaction’ but both are far better than anything I’ve heard by Mr. Gray or the ‘Airstream Driver for that matter’; a track strangely sandwiched by growers ‘Bone Tired’ and ‘Natural Reaction’ (with a bit of banjo, marimba and steel).
Gomez currently live in various parts of New York, California, Michigan and Brighton so no surprise that album was recording in Chicago. That was towards the end of last year and they are currently on a US tour but see live dates below timed to support the release of the album.
Thursday April 16 – Barrowlands, Glasgow
Friday April 17 – Academy, Leeds
Sunday April 19 – Junction, Cambridge
Monday April 20 – Academy, Manchester
Tuesday April 21 – Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
Wedneday April 22 – UEA, Norwich
Friday April 24 – Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Sunday April 26 – Academy, Bristol
Monday April 27 – Academy, Oxford
Tuesday April 28 – Academy, Liverpool
Thursday April 30 – Academy, Dublin
Friday May 01 – Academy, Belfast
Reviewed: Gomez – A New Tide (Eat Sleep Records) Cat. No. EAT057CD Released: 6th April 2009
1 Mix (4:19)
2 Little Pieces (3:26)
3 If I Ash You Nicely (3:09)
4 Lost Track (4:03)
5 Win Park Slope (4:23)
6 Bone Tired (2:20)
7 Airsteam Driver (3:59)
8 Natural Reaction (4:18)
9 Very Strange (4:45)
10 Other Plans (4:26)
11 Sunset Gates (4:58)
Steve Lamacq :: Tracklistings 20-27 March 2009
Gomez – Airstream Driver