The Top 10 Phoenix Albums of 2012

Categories: That Was 2012

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Jim Louvau
Zero Zero @ Rogue Bar, 10/5/12
Ladies and gentleman, here are our 10 picks for our favorite Phoenix albums of 2012. Enjoy!

See also:

-13 Phoenix Bands You Need to Hear in 2013
-Jason P. Woodbury's 10 Best Things I Heard in 2012
-Top 10 Reissues and Compilations of 2012
-Top Five 2012 Heavy Releases In Phoenix
-That Was 2012 Wrapup

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Sareena Dominguez, Moonbeams

The acoustic guitar-wielding female singer-songwriter persona is a little worn out (thanks, Lisa Loeb), but some chanteuses continue to command attention by setting themselves apart from the crowd. Gilbert's Sareena Dominguez, who released her debut album, Moonbeams on River Jones Music Label earlier this year, is a prime example.

Moonbeams shares the typical tropes of a singer/songwriter's album: it's a personal and revealing glimpse into the artist's life and past relationships. But Dominguez stands out thanks to the sheer beauty of the album. Her wispy vocals are the perfect complement to the melodic guitar and violin and subdued drumbeats. The additional instrumentation is what propels Moonbeams; Dominguez isn't just the lead singer, she's a crucial part of the band.

"Fickle Forest" and "Fourteen" look back on the high school romances we may (or may not) remember fondly with a sense of warm and familiar nostalgia, but also the oh-so comforting sense of growing older and wiser. These themes are fitting for a debut album, which finds the singer mature for her age. Moonbeams shows promise for Sareena Dominguez's future career, which is sure to be full of more life experiences and above all else, beauty. -- Melissa Fossum

See also:

Sareena Dominguez Gets Her Groove on With Moonbeams
Sareena Dominguez: "I Wouldn't Say I'm 'Super Folk'"

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IAMWE, Run Wild

Over a year ago, Phoenix-based indie rockers IAMWE sent over a preview track of their upcoming single, "So They Say." At the time I was working on a feature about the guys, who somehow booked an opening gig for Neon Trees. Whether you like Neon Trees or not, they were a popular act at the time. The problem was that IAMWE had a scant resume for such a prominent booking. A YouTube video here and a track or two there, it was curious how these guys snagged the show.

Until I met them, that is. Physically, they looked like they were a well-established band, but I got the impression that there was something lying beneath the raw, and truthfully rough talent I initially heard online. "So They Say" just proved it. The track had a hint of Local Natives, a bit of British shoegaze and a whole lot of focus that I didn't hear from their previous work. Rife with tribal drumsbeats and a chorus of determined voices, the song made me excited to hear what IAMWE would do in the future.

Their debut full-length, She's a Solider, was initially due in late 2011, but was delayed as the band refined their focus. Be glad they did. The result is the cohesive, glammed out space rock extravaganza renamed Run Wild, featuring vocalist Tim Maiden's howl meshed with electronic elements that surprise and stun with each new track. In a year the band did what's often impossible for a young act -- they stepped back, assessed their weaknesses, worked with them, and churned a record that's solid by local or national standards. -- Christina Caldwell

See also:

IAMWE Soldiers on With a Newly Completed Album and Upcoming Tour With Anberlin
IAMWE's "So They Say," as Explained by the Band

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Mark Ord
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