Six song EPs from bands I never heard
of dont tend to grab my attention
I dont know what it was about this release that
did. Maybe the oversized press kit (which included a kick
ass matchbook), or maybe it was just the name of the band
itself. Whatever it was, it worked, because I popped this
right in the stereo when it arrived at Indie Workshop
This six piece hails from New Brunswick
NJ, not necessarily the hot bed of new music, but sometimes,
thats exactly what a band needs. Actually, I think
most bands would be better served to be held up on some
deserted island. Ive had enough of incestuous scenes;
Ive had enough of member and style swapping
Sparks are my breath of fresh air.
So, I guess you would like a little bit
of enlightenment as to what the hell they sound like huh?
Ok, here goes. Think of epic sounds on a small scale.
Or maybe, monumental music on a shoestring budget. I tend
to think of Spirtualized meets Ivy, but add attitude and
rock and roll swagger, and of course the lo-fi aesthetic.
They know when to turn up the guitars and give you a pop
inspired gem a la Grandaddy, as is the case with track
3, Big Day Squad. But, adversely, know when
to lull you away to dreamland with reverbed guitars and
sonic swells like on the very next song, My Babys
All Gone, Your Babys All Gone, which makes
me think of both Luna and Stratford 4.
For a virtual unknown, Sparks Fly From A
Kiss come onto the scene like a lion. I think most people
will be stunned by the maturity displayed on this album.
But dont be fooled, these guys arent young
pups but rather seasoned veterans. Just because you havent
been in a big press band doesnt mean
you havent picked up a few tips and learned a few
things along the way. Its all most like this is
a culmination of years of unknown-ness.
Well, they have taken their years of experience
to heart and channeled it into a great piece of work.
The result is an album that could make a few waves if
the right people were to hear it. I expect more good things
from this band
maybe someday, great things
There's an interesting tug-of-war going
on in the NJ indie scene right now. On the one hand, there's
a new generation of Jersey bands returning to the old
bash 'n' pop sensibility of Bionic Rhoda and Boss Jim
Gettys, bands whose only real ambition is to rock hard,
like Dibs, Copperpot, and Clever Hans. But there's also
an undercurrent of groups going for a far more subtle
approach, bands like American Altitude, Hope Star &
Browning, Brunfussites-turned-Philadelphians Like Flying
Insects, and to that list I would add New Brunswick's
Sparks Fly From A Kiss. "Subtle" is the last
word anyone would've have used to describe singer/guitarist
and principal songwriter Ralph Nicastro's last band, freewheelin'
sonic-skronkers Aviso'Hara. But with Sparks Fly, Nicastro
uses his high, thin, always almost-out-of-his-range vocals
as filigree on top of a delicate latticework of sounds
cobbled out of keyboards, samples, melodic bass, and very
subdued electric guitars. For a New Brunswick band - a
town that's always liked its rock as loud and dumb as
possible - this is a brave and definitely new approach;
there's a lot more Brian Eno than Brian Bruden in what
Sparks Fly is doing, and it works beautifully. This is
music that's soft, soothing, meditative, tranquil, and
yet retains just enough of a sonic edge to hold your attention.
Kudos also to guitarist Johnny Sex, who wrote two of the
six songs here, and whose delicate guitar parts (along
with Nicastro's) perfectly accentuate the melodies without
running roughshod over the electric piano, organ, and
synthesizer sounds that form the base of Spark Fly's sound.
Jim Testa, Jersey Beat
There's something new burbling up out of
the New Jersey swamplands, and this time it's not vinyl
chloride. Sparks Fly From a Kiss's home state has typically
preferred its rock served short, fast and chippy, thankyaverymuch,
which may make the group's delicate power-pop a hard sell
at home. Singer/guitarist Ralph Nicastro, formerly of
local favorites Aviso'Hara, alternates between a Jeremy
Enigk-like coo ("Engaged") and a pinched, emo-friendly
howl ("Beat the Artist", "Big Day Squad"),
but the Sunny Day Real Estate comparisons don't end there.
The sextet's self-titled debut shimmers like a handful
of reigned-in Rising Tide outtakes, glistening with twinkling
guitars and atmospheric dissonance. The set peaks in the
six-minute space-pop suite "My Baby's All Gone, Your
Baby's All Gone", which drowsily canters along before
transmuting into a crashing indie-rock answer to Pink
Floyd's "Eclipse", minus the gospel choir. For
mousy Rutgers students tired of getting the shit kicked
out of them at Stuntcock shows, Sparks... is music to
nurse your wounds by.