Left to right: Bryant Clifford Meyer – guitar, pedal steel guitar Andy Arahood – guitar, electric piano, synthesizer, Emma Ruth Rundle – guitar, Greg Burns – bass guitar, David Clifford – drums, percussion
The press release for Red Sparowes’ forthcoming cd, The Fear is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer, describes their sound as “Thunderheads storming across the prairie, outraged students taking to the streets, migratory herds stampeding along the tundra…” To this list of poetic images I’d like to add: sitting intently at ones computer trying desperately to complete a time-sensitive design project, concentrating really hard not to slit your wrists, and driving 81 miles per hour in a 20 miles per hour residential neighborhood. The fear of failure (or missed deadlines or a reckless speeding ticket) is excruciating indeed but these sorts of everyday banalities, which possess a monumentality of their own, dovetail nicely with the heroic soundscapes heard on this latest offering.
The album “began with the larger existential pondering of truth, faith, order, causality, and the innate demand for an understanding of the larger world around us.” That sounds like you’re about to get one hell of a homily but the disc is mercifully sparse of lyrics so the listener is forced to draw their own conclusions, which to my estimation is a generous gift as too many rock bands with monumental aspirations muddle the proceedings with obvious and tiresomely opaque lyrical metaphors, like anything…written by Cedric Bixler Zavala after 2005 or that dude from Bright Eyes. With this album you’re able to free-associate the sounds with whatever flitters to mind, or heart, for that matter.
And while the allusion to cinematic soundtracks is inevitable, and not altogether inaccurate for the entire soundscape here is intensely visceral, calling to mind all sorts of images, as with the heroic list noted from the press release above, the individual songs do evoke a distinct emotional narrative that you can interpret as you like. This is the hallmark of not only great music, but visual art as well. Why spoon-feed your audience? Art that allows for audience participation in the form of open interpretation stands the test of time. Unless, of course, it’s trendy instrumental music like that whole Nintendo-core thing which I think we can now relegate to the early 2000s or is it still going on?
At any rate, my point is that while I found the entire cd enjoyable to listen to while doing painstaking work on my computer, it was not merely background music nor the soundtrack to mindless meanderings at illegal speeds through residential neighborhoods. No, in fact, I found myself quite engaged shifting from one nostalgic reverie to another or specific scenes from films I love popped into mind. Particularly I thought A Hail of Bombs would have been an excellent backdrop for the final denouement in Pedro Almoldovar’s Matador when the murderous Maria and the weirdo Matador she is obsessed with finally meet to execute a suicide pack that ends with them fucking each other to death. Seriously that scene leapt to mind as well as a scene from Stan Brakage’s homage to lovemaking in which we see two dogs stuck together in excruciating howling pain. Sometimes it’s like that, and if it is, The Fear is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer should be your soundtrack of choice.
Official Website: http://www.redsparowes.com/