Sparklejet – Bar Guest

Bar Guest

Sparklejet’s debut album nicely captures the sound of their home of Fresno, Calif., which they mention as being so hot it drives you a little crazy and being the home of crystal meth. Both of those things sound like the influence to Bar Guest, an album of gritty indie-rock, sometimes lo-fi, sometimes loud and rocking. Think a modern, punkier version of Guided By Voices still playing in their garage, and you might know where this album is coming from.
The styles on Bar Guest are all over the place, running from lo-fi numbers that are catchy and fun to blazing rockers that verge on hardcore. What doesn’t vary is the grit, both in the kind of grungy guitars and the singer’s voice, which is smooth at times but more comfortable belting out lyrics over thick guitar lines and building to a shout or scream.
You wouldn’t think of this as a lo-fi indie-rock album from the opener, “How Long,” which starts with so much modern rock guitars and great big vocals it sets you up for something completely different. The high-powered “Dog Riot” has some ripping guitar lines and a catchy beat, driving this one to a nice bar rock sound. After those loud and aggressive tracks, “Emilio” feels a bit more relaxed, with Frank Black-like vocals and guitar riffs, and “Discordia” gets more laidback, driven by a firmer sense of melody and hooks.
From there, the band gets a little more indie-rock, as “We Get in a Hurry” sounds in the vein of GBV and “I Wanna Destroy You” goes in the other direction, blasting ahead in a blistering attack of hardcore screams and metal-like riffs. By contrast, “Lead Me Under” is quiet and bouncy with strumming acoustic guitars. On “Lebanon, In.” the band even whistles, going for a more playful rock feel, and “Silence of the Day” sounds sweet, with almost crooned vocals. And “Cast from the Seed” just rocks in a straight-up Superchunk kind of way.
Sparklejet have a lot of talent and enthusiasm, and this album is really fun to listen to for a dose of potent, guitar-driven rock. They do shift around too much at times, and it’s hard to get much cohesion on the release, but it still smacks of promise. Not a bad release for the rock lover in you.