Red Sparowes

This is not an album that will translate into catchy ringtones or make you bounce in your car seat, bang your head, shake your booty with friends or write angry/gushy diary entries about your recent ex. Listeners have to sit down and spend some time with it, because the music's not exactly "catchy." There are no individual track listings on the CD, and every seven- to 10-minute composition is complex, progressive, and sweeping in scope—not surprising when you consider that the band includes members of experimental rock groups Isis, Neurosis and Halifax Pier. Without lyrics, Red Sparowes tell the story of the Great Leap Forward, a disastrous plan for economic growth that the Chinese government inflicted upon its people from 1958 to 1962. What does a heartbreaking history lesson like that sound like? Well, it sounds huge, first of all, with giant distortion, elaborate rhythms and tsunami-sized crescendos. Even in their quiet moments, when all seems sparkling guitar and soft melodies, the compositions brim with layer after layer of instrumental ornamentation, including winsome pedal steel guitar. The sound is often breathtaking and always atmospheric, and the CD liner notes read like folk poetry.
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Niki D'Andrea
Contact: Niki D'Andrea

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