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Best Local Band Phoenix 2013 - ROAR

Readers' Choice: Jimmy Eat World

ROAR's 2010 EP, I Can't Handle Change, is perfectly self-contained not just as music but as music-writing; it's frustratingly hard to avoid cliché autopilot when talking about it. It sounds like nothing so much as an earnest reimagining of Phil Spector's hermetic maximalism, and — voilà — Phil Spector is on the cover. The careful melodies and harmonies gradually draw your attention, until — just in time — a barbershop quartet materializes for the a cappella "Baby-bride Rag." It feels labored over in a way that generates comparisons to Brian Wilson at his anxious, unpleasable best, and — of course — the title track reaches its climax in a rousing chorus of "Nothing I do is ever good enough!" Add in 2012's follow-up EP, I'm Not Here to Make Friends, and it's a little easier to say original things, if only because fewer people have heard it — recent live performances have pointed up their spirit-animal connection to Ronnie Spector with dresses and long wigs. The full-length album, which everyone will hear, is a work in progress. A few times a week, lately, on ROAR's Tumblr, a fan will ask about it, and frontman/lead-Spector Owen Evans will apologize for the delays. We haven't heard the material; if we had to guess, it's almost certainly good enough already. But we'll wait.

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