get myself arrested
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.

 

From what I understand, Gomez come out with a new album in May. I watched the video for the new single, and I wasn't impressed. It's dreadfully tragic to me that a band which was once my favourite in the world has, in a matter of five years, slid down my list into near irrelevance. In Our Gun was such a woeful, hollow muddle - Gomez with the soul bleached out, "swamp-rock furnished at IKEA". The band, famous (and maligned) in Britain, is in North America the subject of a small, devoted fanbase, and an amorphous blot of jam-band aficionados who think that Gomez fits the mold. I remember how upset I was when I heard that alot of British indie fans loathed Gomez, mostly because the members of the group look too college-reared and fresh-faced to legitimize their (once-) boggy, weird-o backporch sound. Now, however, I'm beset by a similar affliction: it's hard to like Gomez because their American fans are so annoying. That, of course, and the fact that they're recording forced, faux, vanilla music.

But anyway - Gomez's first two albums, Bring It On and Liquid Skin, are masterpieces of texture. Their sound takes all of these muddy genres - blues, soul, classic rock, surf, 60s pop - and sublimates them into something new, strange, fresh. Beck staying over with the Grateful Dead, Tom Waits in the hot-tub. I don't think the band was ever genuinely hip, but it really doesn't matter: not with the richness of atmosphere on "Hangover," the playful scifi tumble of "Whippin' Piccadilly". The albums are brilliant and smoky; they sound so thick that they almost feel wise.

Gomez - "Get Miles". The first track from Gomez's first album, Bring It On. A haze of guitar, the trot-along-the-docks percussion, and then Ben Ottwell's fine, throaty voice. Some people have criticized this for its insincerity, the way the listener doesn't believe Ottwell's assertion that he "don't get no peace." These criticisms are fair, but they miss the point. Ottwell's not singing the blues in the same way as Howlin Wolf or Leadbelly might. He's not trying to roar out his sorrows, to croon them into the fields. No - "Get Miles" is a mantra, an incantation, an affirmation of the narrator's position and (more importantly) the way to escape it. It's not someone looking for sympathy, it's the statement and restatement of the State of the Person, and what he must/should/longs to do. It's a drone, it's self actualization, it's will. "I love this city, man / but this city's killing me." Remember this, he's telling himself. "Gonna leave this city, man / gonna head out towards the sea." The guitars - feedback-filled, glittering - are the coughs of smoke that billow to other side of this wet, walking narrator, who is trying to pull and push his life together, out of the damp, mixed-up pieces.

(More than that, the song is sad - it's almost pathetic - because for all this singing, for all this bullshit, the narrator hasn't yet left: he's still trying.)

Gomez - "Shot Shot [Folk Shot]". The only good song on Gomez's latest album was "Shot Shot," a joyous, catchy, horn-filled riot. It has a theremin, saxophones, a chorus that sparkles more than anything you would expect. What we have here is something altogether different. A remix from the "Shot Shot" single, "Folk Shot" decelerates the original pop song, grinds it down to a simple voice and acoustic guitar, but then unleashes this dreadful volley of noise, a flattening gale. When the chorus still breaks through the stormclouds, fleet and almost beautiful, it's like an apple falling backwards, a glass filling back up, an apocalypse being undone. This is a golem falling in love, a giant learning to sing.

I'm interested in hearing some new sounds, off the beaten path. If anyone knows of any terrific tunes that I likely wouldn't have heard, and thinks they're worthy of sharing, drop me a note (or just dropload me the file)! Anything is cool - from bluegrass to indie to dance to folk to world music. Thank-you!

Posted by Sean at April 2, 2004 12:20 AM
Comments

sean, if you haven't already checked out my favorite NJersey rockers RANA, i posted a bunch of songs & links a couple days ago on my blog for your listening pleasure. they're solid rawk w/a ton of different influences, and a penchant for "stretching out" some of their tunes.

Posted by mr g at April 2, 2004 3:45 AM

I'm being evangelical about this song (zipped) lately. It might not be your thing, I don't know :x

Posted by elchan at April 2, 2004 1:45 PM

Thanks for your wellwishes, Sean. Difficult times. I should definitely act a bit brighter in the next bit, but I may need to take hiatus as I seem to be moving again.
Such fun, the dilemmas of modern day living!

Posted by forksclovetofu at April 2, 2004 9:48 PM

i think on a monthly basis, 1) i wonder what "in our gun" is like? i should pick that up; 2) their first two albums kicked ass, and did i ever listen the shit out of them; 3) where the hell are they now?

and now i know. tribute.

Posted by adam at April 2, 2004 10:07 PM

Their new album, Split the Difference, will restore your faith. It's not Bring It On quality, but what is? It's also a bit more mature-sounding, but that was inevitable, wasn't it?

Posted by Eoin from Dublin, Ireland at July 21, 2004 7:20 AM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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