Tag Archives: Narrow Sparrow

Pops Tops: Top 11 Releases of 2011 (#4-7)

#7: The Runnies-You Can’t Win LP

Perfect musical accompaniment for a haunted house or dingy dive bar,You Can’t Win is full of ominous, organ-heavy rock and roll. The way singer Mary McKane growls all over this record, I found myself constantly being reminded of the Whigs and fellow windy city spook poppers Hollows.

#6: Cosmos Kids-Volume 1 Lp

Cosmos Kids, like the Laureattes, wear their influences on their sleaves, though Cosmos Kids may wear theirs more boldly and proudly. Listen to album closer, “Saying Goodbye” or “Fight for your Love” for proof that this band has a very real knowledge of and love for the early days of rock and roll.

#5: The Laureattes-Spells LP

Last year, the Laureates smittened me with their EP, No Kontrol, so much so that I named it one of the 5 best releases of last year. On Spells, the guys may have opted to ditch the heavily distorted vocals, but have kept the Britpop sensibilities that hooked me in tact. It’s not surprising this LP was recorded during the same year the band also recorded a year’s worth of covers from bands like the Yardbirds, Stones, and Troggs. Spells, much like it’s predecessor shows no qualms about wearing its British Invasion influences on its sleaves.

#4: Narrow Sparrow-Synthworks EP

On Synthworks, Narrow Sparrow’s debut EP, the group has perfectly married early 60s sock hoppery with modern electronics. This 4-song EP combines theramins, sythns, drum machines, and pretty melodies to create what, to me, is the musical equivalent to an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel.

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Narrow Sparrow: “Joe Meek’s Dream”

Narrow Sparrow is a new name in Chicago, and their first effort, “Joe Meek’s Dream,” is a beautiful piece of electro-pop. The song, an ode to the 60s writer/producer of strange, often space-themed songs, features a theremin, which mimics Meek’s go-to instrument, the clavoline. Just compare the first 45 seconds of this track with Joe Meek’s most famous composition, “Telstar.” Everything about “Joe Meek’s Dream” screams, well, Joe Meek. Whether you see it in the early 60s chord progression or in the atmospheric, spacey noises that give it that touch of weird that Meek couldn’t live without, his influence is present throughout.

The song alludes to Meek’s obsession with the idea that a dead Buddy Holly was trying to communicate with him in his dreams. In the video, you’ll see newspaper clippings about his death (he killed his landlady and himself on the anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death).

“Joe Meek’s Dream,” for being about one downer of a subject sure is a happy and hook-laiden tune, and although this is their only release so far, they’ve won me over for now.

Narrow Sparrow is up for Deli Chicago’s Artist of the Month. If you enjoy “Joe Meek’s Dream,” take a few seconds (literally) to vote for them here.

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