album reviews

    Gomez

    In Our Gun

    Virgin

    ***

    Britpop is dead, having made its last, choking gasp sometime in the late 1990s. When we talk of current trends in British rock and pop, we have to throw off the Britpop corpse and look at what has emerged in its wake. Gomez is one of the groups participating in the redefinition of the British sound, bringing its blues, folk and alternative influences together to forge a unique creation.

    While established Gomez fans will likely not be disappointed with “”In Our Gun,”” the album is unlikely to widen the berth of Gomez aficionados in the United States.

    One of the hallmarks of the Gomez sound is eclecticism. On their prior releases, Gomez have been wildly experimental with the boundaries of genre and with the variety of instruments they employ. Unfortunately, eclecticism can also isolate listeners — especially when, as in the case of this release, the recording lacks a central, defined sound.

    Past albums exhibited, by contrast, a few standout tunes that crystallized the Gomez sound in distinct genres — such as the sleepy, acoustic beauty of “”Tijuana Lady”” from 1998’s “”Bring it On,”” and the austere strings of “”We Haven’t Turned Around,”” which appeared in the film “”American Beauty.””

    “”In Our Gun”” contains a range of tracks showcasing the vocal savvy of Gomez’s multiple lead singers, but nothing grabs the ear so much as the lush “”Miles End.”” The other tracks run the gamut from acoustic to experimental and bluesy. “”Detroit Swing 66″” flirts with an electronica bass pattern, and “”Ballad of Nice & Easy”” lives up to its name with some thoughtful cello.

    If you’re a self-proclaimed hipster looking to round out your British rock collection, “”In Our Gun”” will be a necessary addition.

    — Jennifer Sposito

    Senior Staff Writer

    Moth

    Provisions, Fiction

    and Gear

    Virgin

    ***

    The story of Moth is one that many musicians hope could be their own. This rock quartet hails from Cincinnati, Ohio and started out playing in the garage. They toured across the United States in a short, yellow school bus and eventually ended up with a major record deal with Virgin Records.

    Moth captures a rock sound that has been gaining in popularity. The movement is a fast-growing punk/emo scene that embodies high-energy melodies, crunching guitars, slick pop hooks and clean harmonies.

    The Moth sound is not anything new but there are enough catchy tunes here to make the album worth listening to.

    Their first single, “”I See Sound,”” is a cleanly produced pop-rock song that opens with a melodic acoustic guitar riff before powering into a two-chord chorus. The harmonies of Brad Stenz (guitar) and Bob Gayol (guitar) are impressive for a former garage band. The moment that makes this song complete is the breakdown in the middle with a sort of ’80s-like syncopation.

    Throughout the album you can hear New York punk influneces of simple chords and simple lyrics forming a great song. Moth are able to use filters on their vocals and electronics to round out their sound.

    The influence of producer Sean Beavan is quite apparent. The producer of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails carefully crafted complex layers for many of the tracks.

    The result is a solid album of well-produced, but not necessarily unique music. But Moth has enough quality to be part of the movement that is pushing good rock music into the front once again.

    — Joseph Lee

    Hiatus Editor

    The Promise Ring

    Wood/Water

    Anti/Foreign Lesiure

    ***

    The Promise Ring has been characterized as a forerunner in the emo scene. Of course, they are not sure why they’ve been lumped into this movement, but they are welcoming the publicity.

    On their upcoming release, “”Wood/Water,”” these Midwesterners are not exactly emo. Their sound — especially in songs such as “”Suffer Never”” — captures more of a light-hearted pop sound: sweeping strings, bouncey guitars, a jangling tambourine and Pavement-like vocals.

    Other songs are more somber but still maintain that pop edge. Songs such as “”Become One Anything One Time”” are a perfect example of The Promise Ring mellow side with soft acoustic guitars and the pitter-patter of the drums.

    Of course, there is some help from Stephen Street. They have produced bands such as The Smiths and Blur. The effect of Street’s work is radio-friendly keyboard riffs.

    Former Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato Jr. creates lush sonic sweeps and orchestrates an anthem-like quality to “”Say Goodbye Good.”” In fact, one could say that “”Say Goodbye Good”” tries to capture the energy of the “”Nah-nah-nahs”” of The Beatles’ “”Hey Jude,”” and it’s close, but no cigar. But “”Say Goodbye Good”” is still great song.

    Overall, “”Wood/Water”” is 12 tracks of mellow pop-tunes that are surrounded with lush melodies and riffs. Even the greens in the tropical jungle-like album cover create a lush feeling. The album can even be considered America’s answer to bands like Coldplay.

    Check out their album and mark your calendars for their show at The Scene on May 9.

    — Joseph Lee

    Hiatus Editor

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