Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: Still Spark “Still Spark”

Rock/Pop rock
Still Spark is a duo comprised of 90s alternative rocker Seth Freeman (of Boston’s Little John) and aerospace engineer-turned songwriter Dan O’Leary. The pair site musical influences as diverse as Van Morrison and Bob Dylan to Weezer and Nirvana. What comes out is a post-grunge pop rock sound characteristic of the late 90s. Freeman sums up the band’s philosophy as, “The meaning of Still Spark is about being okay with wherever we are, as long as we got there following our inspiration”.

The guys started the project with a Kickstarter campaign that was so successful that they were able to attract big name producers and players. The record was produced by Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo) and Chris Zerby (Helicopter Helicopter, Hello Dragon), and features performances from musicians who’ve played with Our Lady Peace, Melissa Etheridge, Five For Fighting, and other luminaries best known for their 90s work.

The result is basically a modern sounding, guitar-driven record rooted in the late 90s sound. Vocals are reminiscent of Robbie Williams. One of the strong suits on the record is their use of lush harmonies and backing vocals, which are strategically placed in almost every song. They know some girls with excellent voices! While most songs are catchy enough as is, these sorts of additions take them to the next level and help the band stand out from the crowd. Highlights worth checking out include “Love Comes Calling”, “The Way I Am”, and “Best Times”. “The Limelight” is the standout ballad for me – it contains a good story wrapped in a nice chorus hook that grows on you quick. But honestly, you have to almost force yourself not to like something on this record – it is a great listen from beginning to end.

Check out Still Spark if you are a fan of Gin Blossoms, Five For Fighting, or The Rembrandts. The record is out now.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10

Still Spark on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “The Way I Am”