photo: Brandon Nichols

photo: Brandon Nichols

Will Shenton

“Earth Underfoot,” the opener and title track of Robert Gomez’s new LP, is at once familiar and refreshingly novel. The guitars are reminiscent of The Pixies, the vocals are delivered with the matter-of-factness of a group like Menomena, and the erratic time signature throws all of that off kilter enough that it doesn’t feel derivative.

Being new to Gomez’s work, I was expecting the rest of the album to take a more or less similar approach. But rather than pigeon-holing himself with droning electric guitars and a nineties-alternative sulk, he ends up exploring a pretty wide array of instrumentation and atmosphere that keeps you on your toes.

“Two Teeth,” for example, is a José González-esque, mostly-acoustic instrumental interlude, while “Kaboom” is a dark, border-town ballad with a fantastically rugged violin bridge. “Glissando” even delves into some more traditionally electronic sounds as it rambles through five minutes worth of spacey introspection.

What I found myself enjoying the most, though, was Gomez’s voice. It has an extremely accessible quality to it, such that even at the height of its processing in something like “One Teeth,” it doesn’t suggest any sense of detachment or aloofness.

In short, the guy seems likeable. I know that’s not exactly the most scientific assessment in the history of album reviews, and it could well just be a personal thing, but there’s something sort of comforting about a singer who’s genuine and doesn’t sound like he thinks he’s too much cooler than his audience.

Earth Underfoot is a fun, surprising ride, and it’s certainly going to enjoy some heavy rotation in my apartment for a while. Robert Gomez is a very talented songwriter, and despite a few tracks that overstay their welcome a bit, this most recent release will impress even the most jaded listener with its scope, diversity, and originality. Plus, it sports a pretty bitchin' double-exposure album cover.