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Donita Sparks & The Stellar Moments
Transmiticate
SparksFly Records
www.donitasparks.com


Donita Sparks was once a member of the all-girl grunge band, L7. But while Sparks sings tough during much of Transmiticate, this disc is the furthest thing possible from loose 'n loud grunge. Instead, much of it gives the listener flashbacks to '80s rock - particularly Missing Persons, of all reference points!?!?! With its choppy guitar part and tightened, Dale Bozzio-esque girl scream vocal, "Dare Dare" is like a blast from the hairspray past. One almost expects to hear an MTV VJ break in as soon as it's over.

Whereas Missing Persons tried hard to be relevant then fell on its face with embarrassing failure, Sparks' Stellar Moments have created a consistent disc full of tracks well worth remembering. And the presence of Jesika von Rabbit (of artier-than-thou Gram Rabbit) only adds to this CD's adventurous spirit. Although Sparks mostly acts odd for oddity's sake, she's dead serious on the slightly crassly titled "Curtains For Cathy", which bemoans the untimely death of young girl. "A lot of people die around Thanksgiving," Sparks deadpans. The track is also enhanced by a big, twang-y electric guitar solo.

Except for its robotically 4/4 disco beat, "He's Got the Honey" is about as close as Transmiticate ever gets to grunge. Over a thudding groove, Sparks sings it like thug's toughest leather clad girlfriend. Much the same can be said of "Into The Hi Fi", which - despite its audiophile title - is simple, straight forward hard rock. Once again, co-producer Ethan Allen brings up a different set of punchy beats that play nicely with noisy guitars.

At a time when grunge nostalgia is on the rise - witness the recent reunion of Stone Temple Pilots -Donita Sparks is a wonderful poster child for musical evolution. Transmiticate never fails to shoot up sparks of creativity, while it leaves threadbare flannel shirts for the thrift store.

-Dan MacIntosh

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