Robert Gomez

Brand New Towns (Bella Union)

Denton's insular music community is getting love from the wider world lately, as Robert Gomez joins Lift to Experience, jetscreamer, Mandarin and those stonecutter guys on U.K. label Bella Union. The only thing they have in common is what distinguishes them from most Dallas buzz bands: None can be described as a local version of a national act.

Granted, Gomez has garnered Elliott Smith comparisons, thanks to Smith-like chord changes and the way he layers his kinda-similar singing voice into soothing, lush choruses, particularly on "All We Got." But Gomez's cultured musical vagabond past shows up in the exotic touches he adds to songs, thanks partly to contributions from musicians such as accordionists Paul Slavens and Olivier Glissant, whereas Smith tended to keep arrangements simple. And unlike Smith, Gomez's remorseful lyrics tend to say how he's feeling instead of letting descriptive details tell the story.

"The Same Sad Song" showcases the way he takes a straightforward pop song and adds enough oddities to keep the listener wondering how the hell he did that. A dissonant chord sounds at first like his guitar is running through some strange effect pedal, but it's just such an unusual combination of unresolved notes that it requires your full attention.

The title of "If I Could Have You Back" is the bait for a gut-punch switcheroo, as the singer longs for a lost love. How much better things would turn out if they'd get back together, the listener thinks. Why can't she see how it should have been? But instead of imagining their reconciliation, he admits the relationship would grow toxic once again. "I'd only break you," he sighs and repeats this blunt killer of a line relentlessly over drums pounding as simply as fists on a bedroom wall.

 
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