Never Underestimate the Moon

about

The Sparklers are an American rock 'n' roll band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The band consists of McCracken (voice and guitars), John Douglas Smith (voice and bass guitar), and Bob Enck (voice and drums). They are known for keeping secrets, telling lies, writing songs you wish you did, and keeping up the neighbors.

The band was formed at the turn of the century in South Philadelphia after a fortuitous meeting in the drunk tank on St. Patricks Day. It was here that the trio found they shared a common love of all things rock 'n' roll, the poetry of Seamus Heaney, and the City of Philadelphia. Over breakfast the following morning, they decided to meet again... this time with guitars.

The Sparklers quickly wrote, recorded, and released their first album, "Fall Apart Heart", in 2001. Produced by Paul Smith (Marah, Steve Earl), it was a loud, fast, and bitter take on matters of the heart.

A second album, "Crying at the Low Bar", a song cycle about loss, losing, losering, the City of Philadelphia, and the weight of the human heart, was released in 2012. Despite the delay in it's release, the album was well received; garnering radio airplay and landing on many "Best of 2012" lists.

In September of 2017, the band released, "All the Prettiest Girls Go Straight to Hell", a rollicking collection of city and eastern swing, gutter pop mongrel ballads, junk country, a tinkers damn of sentiment, and a whole lotta shaking going on.

Reviews for All the Prettiest Girls Go Straight to Hell

  • "The Sparklers' previous album, Crying at the Low Bar, came out back in 2012 and has been living with me, in one way or another, since. Click the tag for the proof but that album has been one of my favorites since starting this blog almost six years ago. It's not a stretch to say that I've been waiting my entire adult life for the follow-up. All the Prettiest Girls Go Straight to Hell came out this week and I absolutely let out a fangirl squee about it, much to my officemate's amusement. So how does it stack up? Crying at the Low Bar sounded like the Gin Blossoms doing covers of the Replacements after a long night: wistful, nostalgic, almost angry if they had worked up the energy for it, the album has a mystical quality to it. Unsurprisingly, the songs that follow that template on Prettiest Girls are the ones that appeal to me most. But in five years, the Sparklers have worked up the energy and the middle of the album proudly saunters into full punk raucousness. It's a new trick from an old (to me) dog and the band pulls it off in style. The aggressive beats of "All the Prettiest Girls" and "Very Good Gatsby" are tempered by the wrong-end-of-the-telescope quality of the slower numbers, creating an overall dynamism that I wasn't expecting but certainly welcome. In other news, The Sparklers have still got it and then some. There's no gimmicks or slave to trends here: All the Prettiest Girls Go Straight to Hell is meat-and-potatoes rock'n'roll at its finest." - Adobe and Teardrops

Reviews for Crying at the Low Bar

  • "Upon first listen, the Sparklers have a really familiar sound. It's a mix of Richard Butler of the Psychedelic Furs' gravely voice with REM's pop sensibility. Their latest album "Crying at the Low Bar" is almost a year old but only recently came to my attention. When I learned it was recorded in South Philly, I had to give it a listen. You can hear the whole thing track by track here. "Gingham" is my favorite. The record has gotten some nice accolades from media outlets like Philadelphia Weekly. Plus, at least three websites have named the album among their best list for 2012. All Access has an interview with the band here." - Cyndy Drue (102.9 WMGK, Philadelphia)
  • "This was just one of those discoveries that reminds you why you love music. What can I say? With their whip-smart lyrics, bar-band raggedness, and '90s-throwback guitar hooks, The Sparklers captured my heart." - Adobe and Teardrops (Best of 2012)
  • "I really wish I could say that The Sparklers are from New York, because then I could say there's a local band here that I genuinely adore. But they're from the next best city (ie, Philadelphia) and I still adore them. Their website describes Crying at the Low Bar as a song cycle about "loss, losing, and losering" in Philadelphia. Like a boozy, regretful night, the songs fade into each other seamlessly. While some moments are more distinct than others, the songs coalesce to create a nostalgic, bittersweet atmosphere. Sonically, it's like they took all of the music I love and put it in a blender. And that's why, with just one album under their belts, I'm labeling The Sparklers as part of The Basics. It's been a while since I've fallen this in love with a band." - Adobe and Teardrops
  • "The Sparklers have that classic Americana feel with a little extra twang thrown in. I feel that listeners are very black and white when it comes to country music, so listen if you appreciate quality american tunes." - The Beat 'N Words
  • "The Sparklers are a new alt-country four-piece from South Philadelphia who this weekend are celebrating the release of their debut full-length, Crying at the Low Bar. Named for the matchbook-sized pub that was a go-to hang for the Passayunk Avenue crowd of the early '00s, the record is a tribute to late nights and hoarse throats done up in rumbling guitars, honky-tonk piano and Replacements-style catchy hooks."
    - John Vettese (88.5 WXPN, Philadelphia)
  • "There was a time when genuine rock bands landed on major labels, received amble promotion, and found success on radio. I am just old enough to remember this time. Bands like Cracker and Drivin'n'Cryin' weren't huge everywhere but found considerable audiences in various parts of the country. This was before the consolidation of radio stations and record labels. It's in this era that The Sparklers probably could have found similar levels of success. Their second album, Crying At The Low Bar, harkens back to the quality rock of the late eighties and early nineties without sounding dated or retread. Two songs from Crying At The Low Bar ("Gingham" & "Falling Apart Makes") were recently featured on Von's Americana Mix Podcast, which is where I first heard of them. "Never Underestimate The Moon" is the kind of song every 14 year-old discovering rock'n'roll should listen to. It has interesting sounds and a catchy melody and enough rock to displease overbearing parents. Most importantly the song's title and chorus is the kind of thing a 14 year-old mind could ponder throughout the school day. What The Sparklers prove throughout the album is that they can write a song. Standouts include "Gunfire and Confetti" and "Weren't For Bars" but their website describes the album as a song cycle and for once that's exactly how I feel about it. While each sounds unique enough the songs drift out of one into another with an emphasis on mood and feel. There's a whole lot to like about this record. I would suggest you listen, buy, like on facebook, tell your friends, make an illegal copy for your younger cousin, thank me." - Charles Hale (ninebullets.net)
  • "If you believe there are legions more where Ryan Adams came from, that a particular brand of heartfelt rock 'n' roll still lurks in the corners not taken up by what we know in this moment to be hip and that all of this is grand and magic, go see the fricking Sparklers already. You'll be glad you did." - Joey Sweeney (Philadelphia Weekly)

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