Folks not hip to the critical praise amassed by Gomez (proud winners of the U.K.'s Mercury Music Prize for its 1998 debut Bring It On
) surely caught wind of the British quintet's 15 seconds of fame in those Philips TV commercials. The band's brief romp through the Beatles
' "Getting Better" in those spots can now be heard here in its entirety. It wouldn't be hard to convince someone that Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline,
a collection of unreleased tracks and B-sides, was actually a fully realized Gomez studio album. Recorded over the last three years, the songs here run on the same loose, bluesy folk-rock vibe that guided Bring It On
and 1999's Liquid Skin
. The group's mixture of good old-fashioned classic-rock songcraft might not label them trendsetters, but Gomez's ability to allow fresh ideas to evolve from vintage forms makes them a fascinating band to watch. You can certainly hear the band testing the limits of where their sound might go on such tracks as "78 Stone Shuffle," a stripped-down, yet punchier version of Bring It On
's "78 Stone Wobble." More adventurous is "Machismo," the title track of a limited-edition EP bundled with the first 50,000 copies of Hotline
. Spoken fragments and sampled grooves find their way into a swampy blues stop as if they'd always belonged there.