Seeing Sparks

The Fearless release of Eyes to the Sun
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  April 29, 2009

090501_beat_main
LEAPING ABOVE THE FRAY Sparks the Rescue chart a national course.

Those hardcore fans among you already have much of Eyes to the Sun in your collection. Sparks the Rescue have been selling nine of these 12 songs on a disc they've brought to shows and mailed out from time to time.

Tuesday's release, however, is the first on Fearless Records, home to bands like At the Drive In and the Maine who not only share a musical aesthetic with our local five-piece, but who also represent the next level for which Sparks the Rescue have been preparing themselves for the past two years or so.

"We've learned a lot about being ready for it," says Sparks bassist Ben Briggs, "making sure you actually have fans in every state — real, devoted fans. We've learned a lot about developing the band." And there are seemingly thousands of other bands who are doing the same developing, the same cultivation of fans and toiling in little all-ages clubs (sometimes basements) across the country.

But few of those bands are booked by the William Morris agency. "They keep us smiling when the going gets tough," says guitarist Toby McAllister. "We played a 1200-capacity room with Cartel, and they had a tour bus we got to hang out in it. They'll throw us a show like that every now and again." Like, after the band blow $6000 on their van during a tour.

Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter who your agent is or what label you're on. Only the best of the bands that are circling the country's live-music venues can write and perform the way Sparks the Rescue can, and now, maybe more than ever, songs and talent come before any of the other trappings of success. On their Fearless debut, Sparks show why they've managed to rise above the fray, with huge sing-along choruses they can seemingly write in their sleep, a charismatic frontman in Alex Roy, and enough diversity that they can't simply be written off as just another pop-punk band.

For those of you who've heard the first version of the disc, there's more to like here. There are three new songs — "Pine Tree State," "We Love Like Vampires," and "American Blues" — all of them (like the others) recorded with Jon Wyman, and the whole disc has been remixed by Mark Needham, who's worked with acts as diverse as Better than Ezra, Chris Isaak, Taj Mahal, and the Killers. The result is a giant sound, and the three new tunes are some of the band's best work.

If you've grown up with the band, you know they threw off some of their more aggressive and screamo tendencies in the last two years, and these tunes embrace their more melodic halves with open arms. "We've lightened up," McAllister says. "We got a lot of our angst out." I'll admit I miss that primal craze that infested great songs like "Nurse! Nurse! I'm Losing My Patients," which got your blood boiling while you bobbed your head, but it's hard to argue they weren't always a melodically inclined band that was intrinsically built for radio.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Music, Chris Isaak,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   FIRST SECOND COMING  |  August 22, 2014
    Hey, look, I Discovered a Planet
  •   THE CRUNK WITCH THAT THEY ARE  |  August 14, 2014
    Three albums in, Crunk Witch are now far more than novelty. The all-digital, husband-wife duo of Brandon Miles and Hannah Collen have created enough material at this point to establish a clear method behind what can sometimes seem like madness.  
  •   FIRE ON FIRE  |  August 07, 2014
    From the varying deliveries and styles through the three fully instrumental tracks, there’s a lot to consider in Pyronauts , with equal attractions in playing it loud in the car with the windows down and in the headphones.
  •   HIP HOP SUMMER  |  July 31, 2014
    For pure output, it’s hard to argue Portland is anything but a hip hop city.
  •   SEVEN-MAN ARMY  |  July 24, 2014
    Lately, it’s been open season on “Wagon Wheel,” which has become the acoustic musician’s “Freebird,” one of the very few songs that people actually know well enough to find it funny to request.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE