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Ian Ball
Who Goes There
Dispensary Records
www.theianball.com


There are many reasons for a member of a great band to make solo records… the worst of course being that he is bored with his band and needs a fresh creative outlet. But in this case, how could someone seriously be bored with being a lead member of one of the greatest rock bands of all time, the incomparable Gomez? One has to believe that Ian Ball has a far different reason for pursuing a bit of solo time… perhaps he just had occasion to get together with some different folks and write a few songs and make a little record and then decide that while Gomez was resting he'd go out on tour and play some acoustic shows and introduce a bunch of unsuspecting Gomez fans to some of Gomez's b-side catalog along with some of his new songs and just have a good time of it all anyway. That's more along the lines of what Who Goes There would seem to be.

The record is filled with a trove of bouncy, lithesome songs with Ball's recognizable character spread all over them. The slower, folksy, Looper-esque rambling of "Sweet Sweet Sleep" gives way to the poppy organ and light drums of "Automatic Message" easily, giving the world a glimpse of exactly what Ball probably brings to the Gomez table. The lilting acoustic guitars of "The Elephant Pharmacy" and their accompanying vocal harmonies are very reminiscent of Brian Wilson's Smile era recordings, while the lyrics seem a toned-down version of "Get Myself Arrested". Ball breaks out his Beatles riffing on "Who Goes There", an over ten minute epic pop tune that spends time meandering all over the map, but in a coherent and highly musical fashion. Getting a bit groovy on "When We Were Cool", Ian lays back and lets the vibe flow freely before dropping into the near ambient stillness of "Batteries".

Regardless of the exact reason why Ian Ball felt it necessary to step outside of Gomez for a solo outing, the fact is that he has created a record of beautiful pop songs that are as easy to sing along to as any he's been involved with before. The collection of collaborators on Who Goes There are mostly relative unknowns, and all Americans, which lends a bit more mystery to the equation. The music is mostly sunny, and makes a perfect soundtrack for an early fall day… and, as I'm sure you'll agree, should carry over nicely into the spring season, as well.

-Embo Blake


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