The British band Gomez is a five-piece, consisting of Ben Ottewell (vocals, guitar), Tom Gray (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Paul Blackburn (bass, guitar), Olly Peacock (drums), and Ian Ball (vocals, guitar, harmonica). Whereas the majority of up-and-coming British bands are either retro-pop (a la Oasis), trip-hop (Portishead), or space rock (the Verve, Radiohead), Gomez is one of the few to contain bluesy elements in their rock.
Their debut for Virgin Records, Bring It On, was praised in the rock press on both sides of the Atlantic. They also received the distinguished Mercury Music Prize for 1998 Album of the Year in England, where they edged out such stiff competition as Massive Attack’s Mezzanine and the Verve’s Urban Hymns. They completed their inaugural U.S. tour opening for Eagle-Eye Cherry in October 1998, while the press still offered praise — Spin magazine called Bring It On “a damn beautiful album,” giving it an eight-out-of-ten rating. Liquid Skin followed in 1999 and the rarities and B-sides compilation Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline was issued a year later.
A third studio album, In Our Gun, appeared in spring 2002. Another hiatus saw Ian Ball relocating to Los Angeles, while still working with the band at their new studio in Portslade, England. The dozens of tracks recorded during this time were whittled down and fashioned into Split the Difference, released in May of 2004. By that time, Hut, their original label, had gone under, leaving them signed to Virgin (Hut’s distributor). Despite all the critical acclaim, sales were never up to what Virgin was expecting from Gomez, and the two sides parted ways later that year. In 2005, they signed with ATO Records and released Out West, Gomez’s first live album, in June of that year. How We Operate arrived in May 2006, and the band rounded out the year by assembling a retrospective collection of singles, rarities, and unreleased tracks for Five Men in a Hut: Singles 1998-2004. – Greg Prato