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Not an actual person, Philip Goth is the moniker for the new project of Josh Rawson (AKA Christmas Clapton), former bassist of folk-rockers The Felice Brothers; this debut was recorded by him in his Philmont, NY bedroom over three years while working various odd jobs. Rawson’s shadowy, languid music can be described as gothic folk, with delicately massaged guitars combined with glacial and carnivalesque synths, while his tremulous, drowsy baritone summons Scott Walker, Rufus Wainwright, and Jeremy Enigk (and, on the acoustic, recorded live “Raptors,” a groggier Elliott Smith). Perhaps inspired by renowned, erudite poet John Ashbery (1927-2017), who lived his final years in Hudson, NY and is namechecked on two songs (on the haunting, acerbic “Blueberry Yogurt,” Rawson sees the aged bard in a supermarket buying the stuff), his despondent, talk-sung delivery belies his surreal, droll words. On songs like the Twin Peaks-ian “Serpico at the Salad Bar,” Magnetic Fields/“100,000 Fireflies”-evoking “You Don’t Know What I’ve Been Through, Bro,” music box twinkling “Creeps Everywhere,” plodding, off-kilter “Teenage Anna Nicole Smith,” and aforementioned “Blueberry” (with its darkly comic couplet, “You look up how to make a noose on the Internet/It’s too damn early, Home Depot isn’t open yet”), his ambiguous tales can feel both dryly amusing and deeply anguished.
“You Don’t Know What I’ve Been Through, Bro”
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