Royally Sparks is a fine introductory sampler to the music from the Sparks Music label.
The CD is a thick 16-song effort, highlighting various bands from the label.
Spiral Beach kicks off the DC with New Clouds Hot Clouds, which has a super beat that is quite simply infectious. A great song to lead into what is generally a very good CD. For the record, this is also the best cut here.
Spiral Beach also provides Rocket Fuel to the mix, which is not nearly as good a cut, in fact it's likely the weakest effort here, although Cheeky Snaps by The Two Koreas vies for that dishonour too.
So what follows.
There is the folk-hearted, slower paced Union of Concerned Scientists from The Priddle Concern, that is at least quirky. The same band's Believe What You Want to Believe is another definite disk highlight.
The techno-influenced Old Times Were Good times from Son of Dave that has a near gospel/blues feel twisted with the techno flavour. A nice combo that gets you into the rhythm of the music in a hurry.
The Two Koreas check in with Return to Oslo and Cheeky Snaps.
Nathan Lawr and The Minotaurs gives the CD Footsteps, and Righteous Heart. Footsteps is a rather nice song that has been reviewed here previously on the band's own disk.
Key Witness, Jay Sparrow, and Yonder also contribute. Yonder's Let You Down really cooks too, and Sparrow's Chopper is hauntingly beautiful.
For what is essentially a label compilation disk, Royally Sparked holds together amazingly well. Sparks Music obviously has a 'sound' it looks for in its artists, a modern pop/rock sound from bands willing to play music just a little outside the mainstream, where it's still fresh.
Give this one a listen, but be forewarned, it might leave you looking to buy the entire library of Sparks Music performers. Check it out at www.sparksmusic.com
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper July 29, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada