A New Tide | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024  


A New Tide


May 19, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Is the Mercury Music Prize an indication that you should stop doing what people seem to approve of so much? The prestigious award, given to one British artist annually, signifies the biggest contribution to British music for that year. Gomez were the recipients of that honor in 1998 for their debut, Bring It On. Since that time, however, the group has moved further and further away from the mish-mash of experimental Tex-Mex that brought them to the public’s attention in the first place. Or have they gone so far that nothing else that was present on Bring It On has any room to exist anymore?

A New Tide is the (now) sextet’s sixth album. The band’s members are spread across two continents, so it was written both bi-continentally and bi-coastally, and collaborated on through technological means. It was then brought to producer Brian Deck in separate sessions in Chicago and Charlottesville. All of this, as well as the cast of guest musicians, including Amy Milan, Josh Abrams, Oliver Krauss, and Stuart Bogie, is fine. The fact that they were forced to use technology puts that element into their jam band sensibility and gives a modern sheen to the country blues that Gomez are more about that anything else these days. But for all its multi-generated sources, A New Tide is static in its sound.

Ben Ottewell’s gravelly tones aren’t nearly used to their potential. Instead they are restrained and contained with strange instrumentation overriding his voice. On the other hand, Ian Ball’s pleasing warbles save backing tracks that don’t have much holding them up in the first place. Third vocalist Tom Gray—who doesn’t turn up much on A New Tide—is probably doing a good escape as his delivery usually just mimics someone else’s and doesn’t have much of its own to offer. This is a huge shame as all the members of Gomez are enormously talented musicians. Yet they seem to hold each other back when they get together.

None of this matters as halfway through A New Tide the songs run together with very little to distinguish them apart from one another, and then you realize that you’ve stopped listening anyway.


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