The Top 10 Phoenix Albums of 2012

Categories: That Was 2012

Zero Zero, Mayday

Experimenting with "synth-ier ideas," garage-rock guitars, swirling organs, minimalist drumming, electro-pop elements, hip-hop, float-y vocals, and whatever else seemed interesting, Love Me Nots singer Nicole Laurenne and guitarist/husband Michael Johnny Walker formed Zero Zero, bringing drummer Nick Ramirez into the mix.
The result is Mayday, a debut album of "electro fuzz" that sounds modern, danceable -- occasionally unforgettable in that song-stuck-in-the-head way -- while drawing from a myriad of retro influences that play off each other in cat and mouse fashion.

Sounds are thick and lush, but also sparkly and poppy on top, though the rhythms feel mesmerizingly primitive. The lyrics are a little dark, personal, and occasionally biting. "Drug" offers a raw edge in a pop-infused melody over Laurenne's breathy femme fatale vocals, while "Tear It Up" is a starker, gritty experience of fuzz and fur and sinister undertone, like a soundtrack for a '60s cop show, but one where the cops take acid for mystical mind-tripping revelations.

"We basically poured our instincts onto the tracks and tried not to second-guess ourselves too much," Laurenne says. "You're getting a tiny taste of the musical chaos going on in our heads when you listen to this stuff."

While their heads may be filled with chaos, listeners will have something much more pleasurable taking place inside theirs with each successive spin of Mayday. --Glenn BurnSilver

See also:

Zero Zero Wishes You A Merry Christmas
Zero Zero, Rogue Bar, 10/5/12
Up on the Sun: The Podcast ft. Zero Zero/The Love Me Nots

Colorstore, Afire

In a way it's a pity that Colorstore's last album, Afire, may be the group's best work to date. The album, released four years after its predecessor, Bonefish: The Legend of Mahogany Cass, finds Colorstore at its prime. The biggest disappointment about this album is that it's Colorstore's final piece of work--the band will never play another show or record another song. The 36 minutes from "Afire" to "Ladies and Gentlemen" is it.

Fortunately, the album is a masterfully crafted collection of fuzzy songs that echo '60s nostalgia and warm, contemporary indie pop. The songwriting can be a bit muddled at times, especially under the layers upon layers of instrumentation and reverb, but with some explanation, it proves to be clever and well thought out.

"I spend a great deal of time doing such things with no great purpose and usually with a not-so-good outcome. So [it's] sort of that age-old 'Don't do what I've done' sort of speech a parent might give their child," said vocalist Mark Erickson to Jason P. Woodbury in an interview explaining "My Life As a Beaver," and how the song relates to Erickson's son and a feeling of losing personal purpose.

Erickson's untimely death in September adds an inevitable context to the album. Afire is not only nostalgic in its psychedelic tones. These songs can't help but honor Colorstore's memorable, visually resplendent shows and Erickson's sense of humor in the best way possible. -- Melissa Fossum

See also:

Colorstore's Final Show Will Honor Mark Erickson
Download: Colorstore's Shambolic, Fuzzy "My Life As a Beaver"
R.I.P. Mark Erickson of Colorstore, Roar, and Gospel Claws

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