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Tina Sparkle

Welcome to the No Fun House

(Thinker Thought; US: 8 Feb 2011; UK: 8 Feb 2011)

Back-to-basics in the best possible way

Tina Sparkle the singer doesn’t exist, but Tina Sparkle the band does. (Sort of like Jethro Tull, but without the codpieces.) An Illinois garage/punk trio built around brother-sister duo Marsha Satterfield (guitar, vocals, anguish) and Atomic Satterfield (drums, vocals, funny name, more anguish), the band specializes in stripped down, noisy alterna-rock. Satterfield’s voice is reminiscent of PJ Harvey or Patti Smith, and the songs’ unvarnished structures rarely move beyond the basics: (1) play loud and fast, (2) play loud and slow and (3) play loud and fast again.


This isn’t to say the songs are boring. Far from it—Satterfield gets a lot of mileage out of her unpolished wail and provocative lyrics: “I sit and listen to my grandma talk / Please God don’t let me live that long.” It’s hard to see how things would improve with the addition of, say, a string section or saxophone solo, although the keyboards are a nice touch on “Another Rainy Morning in Moscow, ID”.


With some bands the back-to-basics approach is dull, but when it works it can serve to remind us of what used to be so exciting about the whole rock ‘n’ roll experiment. This is one of those times. The guitar sounds like it’s been turned on and left at the same setting for all 14 songs, and effects are minimal. Your mom would hate this; American Idol would hate it. What other endorsement do you need?

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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Tina Sparkle - "Gash N Go" (live)
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