The following was originally published in our Music From The Underground
Review by antiGUY
There is no use crying
over the demise of At The Drive-In, a band that seemed to implode just
as their star was rising. Few musicians get a second chance but Jim Ward
takes that opportunity and makes the most of it.
Listening to “Wiretap
Scars” it’s easy to imagine that this would have been the next logical
step for ATDI has they stayed together. But that doesn’t matter now because
Sparta delivers the goods. A mix of alt-rock and punk attitude is the formula
employed here, with plenty of distortion, powerchords, reverb laced screaming
vocals and jam packed with melody. It’s hard not to love this disc, especially
in a post grunge world where idiots go around calling power-pop groups
like Blink-182 punk. Although Sparta doesn’t claim the punk title they
are closer to the mark than the likes of Blink and Sum41 and at that they
have major credibility.
To be perfectly honest,
I listened to this CD a couple of times before I bothered to read up on
the band and was a little surprised to see that the group was comprised
from several members of At The Drive In. In a way, that was a benefit,
since I was able to judge the music on it’s own merits and wasn’t automatically
comparing it to the band member’s past efforts. The results indeed speak
If anything the new
band and name has opened doors for lead vocalist Jim Ward, guitarist Paul
Hinojos and drummer Tony Hajjar to further expand upon what they had started
with ATDI and also leaves them unconstrained by the misconceptions some
may hold concerning what they are all about from the success of ATDI.
The CD starts out
with a Radiohead like beat and guitar treatment but then after the intro
to “Cut Your Ribbon” the song launches into full rock mode, brining a full
punk rock fury into the mix. ATDI attempted to achieve this perfect mix
between punk and experimental alt-rock but never quite reached it, not
so with Sparta, they handle the task effortlessly.
The second track,
“Air”, shows us another side of their musical personality, with a nice
transgression from medium tempo verses that sound almost like the Cure
to the full throttle choruses that echo of The Living End.
This is one of those
albums that you have to listen to several times to fully appreciate. While,
it will hook many on the first listen, it is the subsequent spins where
you find the real magic and intricacy that underlies the music.
It’s true that Sparta
is comprised of former members of ATDI but in many ways they are far superior
to their previous incarnation. Many had high hopes for ATDI, only to be
shocked when they suddenly broke up, the great news is that ATDI may be
a thing of the past but unlike many bands that splinter and re-emerge with
inferior offspring, Sparta comes out ahead of the game and in fact makes
you grateful for the demise of ATDI.
Rock is coming back
to the forefront, especially raw rock and Sparta’s debut “Wiretap Scars”
places them firmly in the running for leaders of this new music revolution.
A top-notch effort that is a definite highlight for 2002 and a mandatory
CD for serious rock fans to own. The Vines raised the bar for the
raw rock revival and Sparta rises to the challenge.
We may be running
this review in our Music for the Underground series but the music here
has the ability to put a iron grip on the mainstream and wake the complacent
music scene up and rock it for the second half of 2002. Until then
I will enjoy listening to this disc as I sit by on the sidelines with excited
expectancy to see if that happens.
– Wiretap Scars
Tracks: Cut Your Ribbon
Light Burns Clear
Assemble The Empire