Sparkler Vol 1
Label: Indie/N-Soul
Time 71:51, 18 tracks

Sparkle, sparkle. This is definitely one of the better compilations out there, with a generous 18 tracks by a good mix of known and unknown bands.  It's actually a re-release of the indie version from last year, with a couple of tracks changed. Most of the inclusions here are odd men out--either unreleased, from a demo, from vinyl, or live--although some album tracks are included also. It's primarily common alternative stuff, with a tiny pinch of ska, punk/alternative, and obnoxious techno. It's all interesting, but best bought in order to hear some of the new bands. The unreleased tracks and demos of established bands are rare for good reason--they're somewhat dull in comparison to the more available material out there. Changes from the indie release: the Soulfood 76 track is unfortunately replaced by a track from August Moon, and the Chris Lizotte song is different.

Not everyone will be attracted to the same songs on Sparkler, Vol. 1, but some interesting ones are by Simple (Tim Taber w/Fold Zandura), Ester Drang (a Starflyer 59 derivative), Bloomsday ("Blush," from their EP), the Israelites (more relaxed, old-school ska), and Champion Birdwatchers. The Birdwatchers' track is the surprise gem on the album, sparkling greater than all the rest with some interesting tones and melodies, understated prog/indie rock(!) musicianship, and original alternative songwriting.

All in all, the fact that this is but Volume 1 should bring smiles to many faces.

By Josh Spencer (8/14/98)

I'm not a big fan of compilations but this one made me sit-up and take notice. It's a mixture of better known and indie bands. What makes it of interest is than it includes what appear to be the original demos of songs by a number of the better known Christian alternative bands -- Dime Store Prophets, Poor Old Lu, and Squad 5.0. It also includes a new song by Soulfood 76 and the vinyl version of a Fold Zandura song. If this isn't enough for you, it's for a really good cause. The proceeds are going to the Judeo Christian Outreach Center, a homeless shelter in Virginia Beach.

Most songs are in the modern rock vein but you will find several other genres here including ambient dance, emo-pop, and ska. They include:
Simple's "Into You" (demo)
Fold Zandura's "Samovar" (vinyl version)
Elysian Skies's "Digg"
Satellite Circle's "Inside"
Chris Lizotte's "It's My Right"
Exeter Flud's "Sleep"
Poor Old Lu's "It's Simple to Me" (demo)
Ester Drang's "Adle Vice" (demo)
Bloomsday's "Blush"
Champion Birdwatcher's "Solid" (demo)
Prophecy's "Sick & Tired"
Squad 5-0's United We Stand" (demo)
The Isaelites's "Walls"
Sometimes Sunday's "Live" (live)
Phillip's Tutu's "Humble" (really rough demo)
Soulfood 76's "Find my May" (previously unreleased)
Dime Store Prophets's "Clayton, New Mexico" (demo)
Cloud2Ground's "Draw Me Near"
As with most compilations the production is somewhat uneven in places but this would be a welcome addition to the collections of fans and collectors alike. There are a lot of really good tracks here. Pick it up today.
By Shari Lloyd

Sparkler is an interesting concept, an album of rare and unreleased songs assembled to be sold to benefit the Judeo Christian Outreach Center, a homeless shelter in Virginia Beach.  Like most compilation albums, Sparkler has its high points and low points, with a surprisingly more amount of high points.

Here's the track listing:

Simple - "Into You" 
Fold Zandura - "Samovar" 
Elysian Skies -  "Digg"
Satellite Circle -  "Inside"
Chris Lizotte -  "It's My Right"
Exeter Flud -  "Sleep"
Poor Old Lu - "It's Simple to Me" 
Ester Drang - "Adle Vice"
Bloomsday - "Blush"
Champion Birdwatcher - "Solid" 
Prophecy -  "Sick & Tired"
Squad 5-0 -  United We Stand" 
The Isaelites - "Walls"
Sometimes Sunday -  "Live" 
Phillip's Tutu -  "Humble" 
Soulfood 76 - "Find my May" 
Dime Store Prophets - "Clayton, New Mexico" 
Cloud2Ground - "Draw Me Near"

The third song, by a band called Elysian Skies, sounded exactly like Fold Zandura, right down to the vocals.  Coincidence or track listing error?  I'm not sure, but since I liked both songs, I'll pass on stirring up a controversy.  The best songs on this disc are the songs by Bloomsday, Exeter Flud, and the Champion Birdwatchers.   

If you're looking for a good introduction to some interesting Christian bands, then I would seriously look into getting this disc.  Hey, besides, it's for the homeless kids, right?

By Joe Rockstroh