Advanced Copy: Gospel Claws

Jeff Yerger

Up until now, the Arizona-based rock band Gospel Claws has never really had the opportunity to prove that it’s more than just a band immersed in the Phoenix arts scene. For four years since its formation, all it’s had to its name was an EP made up of only a couple songs. Now they have their chance to shine with “C-L-A-W-S,” and they made sure they seized the opportunity.

First things first: If your band has a good reputation on stage before you make a legitimate full-length, the task in the studio always comes to capturing that live magic on tape. Gospel Claws did it right.

On their Twitter page, they describe themselves as “grainy and rough, yet deeply soulful,” which, considering the source, is probably the perfect set of words to describe “C-L-A-W-S.” Most of this album is so natural sounding, you can hear the strumming of the electric guitar through the mics, and at times a few shrills of microphone feedback seep in. These things are bound to happen with a band like this, not that it’s a bad thing. In fact, it adds to the album’s overall charm.

On their full-length debut, Gospel Claws are living the American dream. They’re just an old-fashioned rock band that believes in getting the girls, kicking back while having a few cold ones and driving around in a souped-up speed machine. It’s not every day you hear a band gawk over a car like in “Need for Speed.” The Beach Boys perfected it with their “Little Deuce Coupe,” and Gospel Claws carry on in that spirit with their three-part harmonies and playful personification of an American muscle car, which they describe as a real “mean machine.”

The song doesn’t sound too out of place when it sits only a couple tracks away from the oldies vibe of “Stars In My Heart.” The song evokes the sound of the early days of rock ‘n’ roll when bands like Herman’s Hermits and the Hollies were all the rage. With its lazy bass-line at the forefront and reverberated guitars plucked at the right moments, this ballad could’ve been played at your parents’ prom.

Other songs on the album reach for higher standards of songwriting. The drums at the beginning of “Walk Me Down” set the tone for this album, and as the guitars enter in a layered fashion, you know these guys mean business. “Avenues” is another song that thrives on a driving guitar riff that at first seems subtle and content with being in the background until it lifts the song to a gorgeous end.

Gospel Claws is an American rock band through-and-through, and “C-L-A-W-S” is a solid showcase of good, traditional rock ‘n’ roll. While the album may not blow anybody away, it’ll be interesting to see how the band grows and progresses now that it has a legitimate album under its belt.