Gomez’s “The Ballad of Nice and Easy” originally was written with just acoustic guitar and percussion.
But once it was received by drummer Olly Peacock, he took multi-instrumentalist Tom Gray’s mellow-meant tune and jacked up the tempo; co-vocalist/guitarist Ian Ball covered it with an aggressive bass line; true vocalist/guitarist Ben Ottewell added a little electric gruff; and by the time the Brit-pop-alt-country-blues- rock quintet finished recording the closer to 2002’s “In Our Gun,” there was not a single acoustic track on “The Ballad …”
That’s the typical free approach Gomez takes to songwriting. Relying on digital technology, it reinterprets sounds and ideas beyond recognition from conception.
So with the release of “Split The Difference” in May, fans and critics expected more intricate layerings of digitized psychedelic-pop-folk-rock.
However, whereas “In Our Gun” utilizes an innovative blend of alt- country, garage rock and Cambodian street fair samples, “Split The Difference” pares down the exotica to the simple, smart Brit-pop-tinged blues-rock that sets it apart from the rest of the retro-pop, trip-hop and space-rock coming from its peers in the UK.
Another change on “Split The Difference” is the refined role played by singers Ottewell and Ball.
While Gomez is essentially identifiable by Ottewell’s soulful and decidedly un-British bluesy vocals, the vocals on “The Difference” are an uneven split with Ball, whose doctored vocals take the lead on eight of the 13 tracks.
The improved handling of vocals and semi-departure from dot/dash over-production on “Split The Difference” is a deliberate union of rock and its blues roots. It’s a sound Gomez brings Thursday to the Big Easy Concert House.
Best known as the band that swiped England’s coveted Mercury Prize from Pulp’s “This Is Hardcore,” The Verve’s “Urban Hymns” and Massive Attack’s “Mezzanine,” with 1998’s “Bring It On,” British critics touted Gomez as the savior of Brit-rock.
When the flavor-of-the-month treatment faded, Gomez released the slept-on “Liquid Skin” (1999) and “Abandoned Shopping Trolley” (2000’s collection of B-sides and rarities), before taking a hiatus to recharge in places such as Australia, Cambodia and Vietnam prior to recording “In Our Gun.”