The Top 10 Phoenix Albums of 2012
If you ever meet me in person, don't be fooled by my stout exterior and lack of fashion sense -- I just wanna dance. I was never really good at it, but back in the day you could find me on the dance floor at parties, clubs, weddings, baptisms, quinceañeras; pretty much anywhere with low lighting and loud music. As I've gotten older my dancing excursions have become few-and-far-between, but just know that in the back of my head, that little ball of light manning all of the controls is constantly bobbing its head, just waiting for a beat.
That being said I can say, without hesitation, that the best local album of 2012 belongs to Tempe electronic group Vial of Sound with their debut EP, VOS. Released on June 24 as a five-track downloadable album on the band's Bandcamp site, VOS quickly made an impression on me with its expertly crafted synth sounds, retro beeps and bouncy dance beats. The release was produced, engineered, and mixed by Bob Hoag and recorded at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, where the staff knows a thing or two about vintage gear. "We wanted to go through [Hoag] because he records analog with vintage gear and tape, [and] tape sounds fatter than just recording digitally through a computer," Josh Gooday told New Times back in July. For a group that features an all-analog synth setup consisting of a Mini-Moog, Oberheim OB-8, and an Arp 2600, a fat sound is precisely what the instruments called for.
Clocking in at just under 22-minutes, VOS wastes no time in setting the tone, jumping off with a grooving beat and enough laser ray sounds to make Debbie Deb smile on the opening track, "Pop the Beat." The tempo picks up with some smartly-tracked drums and an all-out dance pace in the ensuing "Thumper." "Do You Want Me," comes out more aggressively and features prominent vocoder encased vocals, marking probably my favorite track of the release. In all it's just a creative and unique use of instruments that have been long retired. -- Anthony Sandoval
Bogan Via, Wait Up
One of the most common complaints you'll hear when trying to share an album with someone is that "All the songs sound the same." My kneejerk response has always been, "Well no shit. It's the same band members with the same instruments in the same studio. The difference is subtle, you mongoloid. Jeez." But that doesn't usually help my case.
That's not a problem with Bogan Via, the North Phoenix couple-slash-dream-pop-duo, that recently released their debut EP Wait Up on Common Wall Media. Mixed and recorded by Bob Hoag (also known for his work with Gospel Claws, The Ataris, and Black Carl), Bogan Via has the buoyant, cutesy indie polish down pat, but the ambiguous lyrics on tracks like "Copy and Paste" and the members' shyness to explain the meaning behind them suggest there's more to it.
For a six-song record, Wait Up shows surprising diversity, but most of all, it shows balance. The album goes in an on-off pattern, one song focused on acoustic guitar, the next track focused on synth. Bret Bender and Madeleine Miller also swap vocal duties; so on songs like "TES" or the titular opener, there's a mature equilibrium that keeps things from growing stale. It's that fine line between being sickly sweet and conceited and Bogan Via ride that groove perfectly, providing an album that is perfect for repeat listening. -- Troy Farah