Current popular music usually veers into either the lighthearted lane or the intense, leaving little room for artists who both rock and groove. Enter: Robert Gomez, Denton’s convincingly, lightheartedly intense maestro.
His latest album, Brand New Towns, captures the zeitgeist of the indie movement while also steering into purportedly cursed Texas folk. As the disc’s title suggests, Gomez blends a lot of diverse elements here. On “Perfect,” accordion and soft synthesizer tones waltz, and their somber dance has the solidity of the old world and the uncertainty of the here and now. Britain’s Bella Union label has managed to sign more than a few quality bands from the States, especially from Denton, including Midlake, Lift to Experience, Mandarin, and the thunderous Jetscreamer. Most of them tell mythical stories in unique voices, and Gomez is no exception. His tender melancholy rings throughout Brand New Towns, leaving in its wake a sense of chances not taken and regret over a life not fully lived. In “The Same Sad Song,” he articulates his plight, “You have so much to say … / I can’t help drifting off somewhere far inside my head.” The last half of Brand New Towns, though, slows to a crawl. The rhythm section pretty much disappears, and the strings and lead guitar work neuter the passion of the first half. Still, the album’s complex simplicity is, if not wholly new, effective.-Caroline Collier