My Favorite Year (East Liberty)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Oct. 11, 2013
Just as its Chester Brown-style cover portrait and Peter O'Toole-inspired title insinuate, Fastball's Tony Scalzo takes a decidedly less traveled road with his solo debut. While the pure pop instincts that characterize his Austin trio remain at the forefront, My Favorite Year dims the lights to create a more subdued, wiser mood. His vocals are gruffer and the arrangements are scaled for pubs rather than radio. Opener "Love Lost" is a template for the album's lyrical bent. Nevertheless, convincing hooks turn the post-breakup phase between hopeless melancholia and emboldened resolve into something hummable. Scalzo's bandmate Miles Zuniga gets co-writing credit on "Ziggy," an aural snapshot of the perennial club-dweller who can't manage the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Hard luck ultimately gives way to the ethereal, psych-tinged waft of "Free World," co-written with Zuniga and Spoon's Britt Daniel. Most of Scalzo's tales leave just the right amount of vagueness for listeners to draw their own conclusions.