Monday, February 27, 2006

through the scraps of human ear

...mmm tasty! This is not so much a review of Blue Velvet as it is an attempt to gross you out and mishmash key terms in a late-night attempt at wordplay. Yeah, moving on... It's Through the Sparks, and the record is AudioIotas: Scraps for the Human Ear, although I liked my version better.

Demo collections, usually released after a band has gained some degree of notoriety, can be unpredictable. Typically, though, I tend to love listening to studio bootlegs and alternative takes of songs I've heard before--it lends a new perspective to the songs at hand and helps the listener view the musicians recording the songs as creative people involved in an ever-morphing process, something I can admire as a writer. In any medium of expression, the possibilities are endless; some things just work and others don't, and there's always the pervasive thought that no matter how well you do something, it can be changed to be even better... if you could only figure out how.

Last week reviewed AudioIotas, a solid collection of demo recordings by Through the Sparks. The reviewer gave a brusque listen and wrote up a facile review comparing the band to Coldplay, U2, Wilco, and the Jayhawks. Admittedly, that's not necessarily a bad roster, but I felt the record deserved more attention.

The band's EP Coin Toss was released a few months earlier and contained a midsection of memorable songs, but I've found that my favorites are from AudioIotas. The reviewer remarks, "This is a strong collection in need of a touch of organization; these guys could be great if they just stay focused on a single idea for an extended period of time." He's probably right, yet if forced to pick throwaway tracks I'd be hard pressed to dispose of any of the "ideas."

In my mind, the different styles give voice to the band's potential range; "Backyard Bombshelter" and "Gold-Plated" would be folk-rock favorites if performed by more widely known, established bands, and "Sci-Fi Lie" has a unique yet retro, dreamy 60s high school dance feel to it that strikes me every time I hear it performed live. Probably one of my favorite things about this band--that is widely demonstrated on the record--is their ability to feel old and new at the same time. It's a tragedy that so many folks are missing out on them.

That said, the songs on AudioIotas often sound as if they were recorded underwater; not that I'm big on crisp production, but more clarity would endear these tracks to more people, I would guess. Then again, I suppose lesser accessibility is the price paid for a chance to listen to what's going on behind the scenes.

Here are two songs from AudioIotas and an exclusive demo from Through the Sparks' current recording sessions. It's quite different, but it might very well be my new favorite. Let us know what you think.

Through the Sparks - Gold-Plated
Through the Sparks - Sci-Fi Lie
Through the Sparks - Invisible Kid (new demo)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Through the Sparks thanks you for listening. And thanks you again for the recommendation. See you soon. --JDN

1:23 PM  

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