Monday, January 7, 2008

I like the album 'My Red Scare' by Frankie Sparo


I am listening to Frankie Sparo, to the album ‘My Red Scare’. It is maybe the 200th or 300th time I’ve listened to it. Maybe more. I have no idea. I’ve listened to it a lot of times, anyway, is what I’m saying. I was talking to a friend of mine (it was the same friend, actually, that suggested I listened to BARR on Christmas Eve – see BARR post below) and I’d given her this album as a Christmas present, I think, a couple of years ago, and I asked her if she liked it, if she listened to it much ...

She said something like, ‘Well, you know. I like it, but there’s only some times when I would feel like listening to it.’

I don’t feel that way about Frankie Sparo. I think she was implying that it was music to listen to maybe if you felt depressed. I think I could listen to Frankie Sparo in any ‘emotional state’ and feel that it corresponded with how I was feeling. Maybe because I just like it so much, it already feels ‘part of me’ and so won’t change how I feel about anything.


I was working in a Virgin Megastore in Vancouver, Canada. I lent a person there some ‘English CDs’ (I can’t remember what I lent her; something by Hefner, maybe). She lent me some ‘Canadian CDs’ in return (a Destroyer album, something else, I think, and ‘My Red Scare’ by Frankie Sparo). It was a 'cultural exchange'.


Frankie Sparo sent a demo tape to Constellation Records. They liked it. They signed him to their label. He recorded an album for them (‘My Red Scare’).


The first time I heard this album, I thought: ‘If I could make music well, and somehow write good lyrics and put melodies and music to them, I would like to sound exactly like this’.

I only get that feeling sometimes, listening to music. I get it the most listening to Frankie Sparo. I feel like he is doing exactly what I would like to be doing. It makes me feel excited and at the same time calm and ‘in agreement’.

I find his lyrics funny; they are sad and often absurd. I think he writes good lyrics.

Sometimes they are very ‘dark’:

Photographs of motorcrashes
starring me—I pulled them from
an incision in your throat
while you were fast asleep.

(from ‘Bastard Heart’)

Sometimes I just think they're funny:

Careful of the company you keep,
the chemist tells me you've made friends.
I X-rayed myself and called the police.

(from ‘Here Comes the Future’)

Frankie Sparo sounds like he is ‘troubled’ by almost everything. He sounds worried, and sometimes weary, and he drags out his words very slowly over the songs. He is not hurrying. He sounds like he is tired of hurrying.

He sings a lot about staying inside; feeling tired of groups of people:

The out-of-doors was worrisome:
I got in accidents,
and panicked in my scarlet suit,
hearing sinister voices, but no voice came
the night that we stayed in.

While you were a drowned policeman,
I romanced automatons.
It's not for you, shaking like a nervous wreck
in a frenzy at the discotheque.

So, what could you want
with no-eyebrow debutantes and
vacuous boys in rooms filled with noise?

Oh, throw your hands in the air,
and wave 'em you just don't care.
We did not mingle with the vapid mob, dear,
the night that we stayed in.

(from ‘The Night That We Stayed In’)

My favourite Frankie Sparo song is called ‘Diminish Me NYC’. This one is sarcastic-sounding. I like the terrifying drum noise at the end, especially.

Here are the lyrics to it:

They were thinking of evolving;
they were feeling glamourous.
And itching from above, [calm an ocean],
la la la la, magnificent New York.

All the pretty lights excited you,
and the rush, it could not frighten you.
But it's hard to feel tall when everything is tall,
and everything is tall in magnificent in New York.

I am the occupant, occupying a souvenir-stand life.
I heard the haven of the Champion taxicab and I dilated.
Discard the cheap old life, the [job on] the bad time:
I can see France from here. I made a motion.
We want to go where they hit the action, la la la la.
Magnificent New York. Magnificent New York.


I like Frankie Sparo a lot. Whenever I meet someone new, and if we talk about music, I get excited and tell them about Frankie Sparo. I make them a CD, and then wait, and when they don't say anything about it I ask them if they listened to it, and they maybe say, 'Yeah, it was alright,' or they say, 'It wasn't really my thing,' so I'm writing this on here in the hope that someone who hasn't heard Frankie Sparo before will now listen to him and like him and feel as excited about him as I do.


Frankie Sparo myspace page (he only has 3 friends)

Frankie Sparo wikipedia page (not much on here)

Frankie Sparo Constellation Records page (there are good photos of him in the 'images' bit)

Frankie Sparo interview

Frankie Sparo lyrics page


Blogger Biff said...

It is a lovely album. It is like Leonard Cohen alone on Christmas Day, a bit drunk, lots of half mince pies lying around the edge of the battered Fender silver face amplifier in the corner. Also horizontal bottles of brandy in a corner with the wrapping paper damp. This may sound to others like a sad state of affairs, but it is a very happy record. At least it makes me happy. It's the sound of the person described above making a happy record.

January 11, 2008 at 3:08 AM  
Blogger Modestmerlin said...

i've never heard of frankie sparo but took a listen after reading your note. i quite like it. thanks.

January 21, 2008 at 5:38 AM  

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