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Fortunately, though, Gomez isn't saddled by the adverse cultural baggage implied by those influences. Instead, such long-distance admiration has imbued the band with a swampy down-hominess, while sifting out all the hippie nonsense. This bluesy, postmodern approach has been successfully harvested by Beck, with whom Gomez also shares a love for funky wordplay (oddball song title of the year: "Love Is Better Than a Warm Trombone"), though not necessarily his deep love for old-school hip-hop. True, the seven-minute epic "Tijuana Lady" does boast an Odelay-like collage vibe, but the main thrust of the song revolves around an honest-to-goodness pop hook.

This isn't to say that Bring It On is always an easy listen. Of Gomez's three vocalists, Ben Ottewell sings with the most character; his hoarse rumble pretty much erases any overtures toward accessibility. The songs themselves have a loose, live-to-tape feel, their hidden pleasures unraveling with repeated listens: The slide-guitar atmospherics and mouth harp of "Here Comes the Breeze" combine for stoner fare just sophisticated enough for those too snooty to admit they like that sort of thing; the loping bass of "Get Myself Arrested" propels the song into a funky, sing-along jam worthy of the band's ersatz influences. In the end, Bring It On treats American music with the utmost respect -- and that means giving it a good thrashing when necessary.

-- David Simutis

Gomez opens for Eagle-Eye Cherry Sunday, October 11, at Instant Karma.

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