The Top 10 Phoenix Albums of 2012
"Is there anything I can do? Oh anything I can do? To win, win back our love," Gospel Claws singer Joel Marquard sings on "Anything I Can Do," his voice drenched in reverb, pleading like a lovesick Walker Brother. When the band comes in, swelling like a forgotten bandstand unit, you can practically see the couples take the dance floor in flannel suits and patterned skirts.
It's a moment of pure retro escapism, but Gospel Claws second LP, Put Your Sunshine Away, doesn't live in the past so much as it retrofits it. Garage rock, Motown shuffles, doo-wop swoops, R&B grind -- each style is appropriated into the band's distinctive rock 'n' roll framework over the record's nine songs. "I Want It All" struts on a flailing groove; "Teenage Kicks" stutter steps with earnest romanticism (sounding nothing like the Undertones song it shares a title with); "Hambone" jitters with Latin-tinged percussion and a swooning chorus your grandparents might slow-dance to.
Put Your Sunshine Away isn't afraid to sound familiar, but in the best way. You feel like you've heard all these songs before, but you can't quite place the time and place. It's a record that shows off its dusty, crate-digging-stained fingerprints, a love letter to pop music at its purest. -- Jason P. Woodbury
When I first heard about Tom Filardo's (formerly of Asleep in the Sea) project, simply dubbed "Filardo," it was billed in a Facebook event page for a show as "Pop Music for the Future."
His first record under the name, Enter the Edit Suite was just that: Forward- thinking while still aware of pop traditions, it felt like a challenge to the notion that you can't make something on the scale of Pet Sounds with just modest means. Filardo's Slow EP in comparison, feels like pop music for a post-apocalyptic future.
Minimalistic and restrained, this record has a lonely, solitary vibe; It's as if the pop music infrastructure of the last release collapsed, leaving Filardo to fend for himself and attempt to rebuild with what limited tools he has. Using mostly just his voice, a guitar, and a little bit of reverb, Filardo writes pop songs that, despite being slower and sparser in instrumentation, manage to sound just as grandiose as his previous work. The standout tracks for me are the bookends.
The tape opens with "Lost in You", which sounds like it could be a slower version of a song from Enter the Edit Suite and playfully indulges in so many pop lyrical clichés about desire and feeling blue without being off-putting. It ends with "Anonymous Me" a mellow number about losing lovers to the Bay Area, being broke, and hating work. In between is a string of introspective songs, some vague, some blunt in their meanings, but all capturing Filardo in a more intimate and isolated setting. This is a record that fans of slower, folky pop acts like Mark Kozelek and Mojave 3 should enjoy. It's still pop music for the future, if only a more lonely vision of it. -- Mike Bogumill