MARK SPARKLES, THE: Pass: 7”

Let me just say this: Pass is definitely rough sounding. I mean, it sounds really rough—and this is from a guy who adores Shotwell, for Christ’s sake, a band not exactly renowned for the sonic integrity of their recorded material. I think the problem lies in the fact that it was mastered very low, and the way the drums were recorded here—when there’s drumming—everything sounds very hot, almost like the needle’s running across the record. It’s too bad, too, because the band itself reminds me of stuff like Punkin Pie or Abe Froman—frantic, energetic blasts of joyful raucousness with traded-off male and female vocals, on the snarling, ragged (right) side of pop-punk. Were these tunes presented in a more listenable format, I have a feeling I’d be loving them. As it stands now, and it pains me to say it because the folks involved with Abandon Hope seem like very cool, enthusiastic people, but the recording may actually be too rough to get much enjoyment out of the songs themselves.

 –keith (Abandon Hope)