Here’s a clip of Southport England’s Gomez, performing one of my favourite tracks of off their exceptional 1998 debut, Bring It On. The record won the coveted Mercury Prize in ’98, against some stiff competition including Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, Pulp’s This is Hardcore, and The Verve’s Urban Hymns, among others.
Bring it On was a big record for me then, and I still love it now. On the whole, you get a gumbo of influences that can’t always be immediately identified; there’s blues and folk mixed with an indie-guitar approach, which separates the group from the herd of bands which came out of that late-90s musical landscape in England. And I am a sucker for bands who have no frontman, and in fact have three lead singers – Ben Ottewell (the growly voice), Ian Ball (the Gallagher-esque voice), and Tom Gray (who kind of acts as a medium texture to his two associates).
The music renders a sort of homemade sound, as if they’d created everything in their front room. In this way, and in many others, Gomez kind of reminds me of the Band. Like the Band, the group consider the spiritual home of their music to be in the American South, aligned to, but not really representative of, American roots music. On their first American tour, they wondered how it would be received. Yet, John Lee Hooker himself acknowledged their impact, although their music is certainly not in the same vein as his. I think what was being picked up on was not really about style, so much as feel.
It was clear that the band were not interested in being tied to a specific genre, enthusiastic as they were for the music of those who came before them. Their next few albums explored similar territory while ratcheting up electronic textures at the same time. Liquid Skin, their 1999 follow-up rendered a cut on the American Beauty soundtrack, the crystalline “We Haven’t Turned Around“. 2002’s In Our Gun produced a more experimental turn that was mediated by its follow-up, Split the Difference in 2004. The most recent studio record, How We Operate is their best since the debut, mining what the group does best; great melodies with plenty of rootsy-meets-indie appeal.
To hear tracks off of their most recent album and of albums past, check out the Gomez MySpace page.
And for fan-related goodies, news, and tour information you’ve got the Official Gomez site to turn to, Good People.