Grown Up Avenger Stuff - Sparkleton

It's impossible to get around the point that singer Dierdre Kroener is the aural focal point on Grown Up Avenger Stuff tracks. This band has been positively compared to Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and for good reason. Each has assertive lead singers that demand the listener's full attention.

This brief, seven-song project gives Kroener plenty of opportunity to push her vocal cords to the limit particularly when she screams out "You're! Too! Cool!" at the end of "Too Cool."

Sparkleton's best song is "The Beat," which combines Kroener's scream-y vocals with a fantastic funky rock dreamscape. On it, Kroener sings about being funky, over a rhythmic track that is well, let's face it kinda difficult to dance to. Kroener also talk-sings much of the song's lyrics, as well as scat singing on other parts. Bassist Hunter Thomsen also deserves special mention for laying down a fantastic low end groove.

Kroener shows off two opposing sides of her musical personality with "The Man," where she coos like a sparrow one moment, then snarls like a lioness the next.

Sonically, Grown Up Avenger Stuff is at its best whenever the group lets loose and appears to be at the breaking point. Much like the band X, which though steeped in classic rock knowledge always appeared to be taking those corners way too fast. Similarly, there is a looseness to tracks like "The Beat" that make one wish the band might one day make an all-out punk rock disc. When both the guitars and Kroener's voice are just a little too pretty, the group tends to sacrifice some of its bite. There are girl-fronted bands that are, frankly, a little too girly, and it would be a shame if Grown Up Avenger Stuff decides to act a little too grown up and drops its youthful verve.

This album closes with a relatively unused Crayon in Grown Up Avenger Stuff's coloring box, as the song "Do Ya" starts off with a guitar riff that hearkens back to The Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy). But it doesn't stay in that dreamy, psychedelic state, and instead goes into a rollicking electric blues workout. Just like real life avengers, these Grown Up Avenger Stuff players seemingly have plenty of super powers in their arsenal and at their disposal.

Something tells me Grown Up Avenger Stuff is an even better band in concert. With that said, though, the most of Sparkleton shines with a crushing hard rock glow that is a good omen for the future of this band. In a fair and just world, where only the best music made it to the radio airwaves, "The Beat" would be a huge hit. I'd just love to see how dancers on the old American Bandstand might have rated it. (Just remember, you don't need to go back in time to Bandstand days to listen and evaluate it. If you want to catch a band before it makes it to the top which likely won't be too long from now get an earful of Sparkleton right now).

Grown Up Avenger Stuff - Sparkleton

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