Out West – Gomez
ATO Records 025
With a bluesy growl and roots rock foundation one moment and something akin to Britpop minus the arrogant affectations the next, Gomez sounds like the improbable supergroup collision of Warren Haynes joining forces with Oasis. In the hands of the quintet, the two distinctly different styles leisurely collide ("Here Comes The Breeze" and "Ping One Down") or take turns to shine ("Get Miles" followed by "Shot Shot" in the manner of Grateful Dead shows moving from a Garcia tune to one by Weir and back again). A decent argument could even be made that "Fill My Cup" drops a subtle nod towards Pavement's slackassness.
On Out West, the group’s two-disc live release, the band members mesh these musical worlds in a method that shines a light on what’s most attractive about Gomez — songs that don’t follow exact patterns and performances of them that comfortably set the controls for exploration and the treasures that they reap.
The 20 songs here are taken from a three-night stand at the Fillmore. Vocalist/guitarist Ian Ball explained in the press release that around 65 numbers were played during that run. Compiling a track from one show and another from a different evening becomes evident on much of disc one. Despite every number being engaging on its own, there is a lack of flow that detracts slightly from the experience.
I'm not saying a band must be pure by representing a complete show, warts and all, but choosing the best takes can be tweaked in a way that gives the impression of one seamless concert. The Grateful Dead Movie soundtrack provides a perfect and recent example of how this can be accomplished. Still, each song contains a fire and passion that make the individual parts strong enough to support the whole.
On disc two, the lengthier of the CDs, Gomez makes the arrangements and takes the playing and intensity to another level. It's enough for me to yearn for what could have been on disc one, but I'm too damn busy enjoying myself.