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Sparta – Wiretap Scars

Best Alternative Album
Best Punk Hybrid Album 

The following was originally published in our Music From The Underground section. 

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 for themselves. 

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. 

CD Info 

Sparta – Wiretap Scars
Label: Dreamworks Records
Cut Your Ribbon 
Sans Cosm 
Light Burns Clear 
Red Alibi 
Rx Coup 
Glasshouse Tarot 
Echodyne Harmonic 
Assemble The Empire
Listen to Samples and Purchase this CD online

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