Producer Andy Mathison explains it best: "Have you ever seen one of those vans with a paint job like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but in place of cherubs are wizards? Sparrowhawk is the soundtrack to that lifestyle." Not only did these words have me laughing so hard that I spat out my beer, but they also made me an instant believer. Minneapolis-based Sparrowhawk plays denim-clad 1970s arena guitar rock without a trace of pretension or irony. This is by no means the first band to combine Thin Lizzy worship with elements of punk rock and power pop, but I can't think of another group that has pulled off such an approach in a more satisfying way. Sparrowhawk manages to rock thunderously while still having the soul and sincerity of a Midwestern punk band. On its 11-track debut album, this foursome sounds poised to travel back in time to 1978 and open an epic bill headlined by Lizzy, Cheap Trick, and The Dictators (the band even covers "Stay With Me," the greatest song of all-time).
Sparrowhawk singer/guitarist Johnny Eggerman and drummer Damien Tank were formerly in the most excellent Private Interests. Zach McCormick (Senior Video) is on vocals and bass, and Martin Mueller (Daniel & The Real Feels) creates guitar harmony magic with Eggerman. All these guys can play their asses off, and that's fortunate. This style of music simply wouldn't work without two stellar lead guitar players and a monster rhythm section. The logo and album art by Lucas Gluesenkamp are over the top in the most awesome way possible, and that definitely fits the band's efforts to carry on as if the '70s had never ended (I want to live in that world too!). I feel like listening to this album will cause your facial hair to grow at an accelerated rate that science would never be able to explain. But beyond all the stylistic commitments is a really terrific band with genuinely good songs and chops for days. A la kindred spirits Sheer Mag and White Reaper, Sparrowhawk understands that the true staying power of arena rock comes from well-crafted tunes with massive hooks. This record is loaded with anthemic rockers that sound best with the windows down and your fist hoisted triumphantly in the air. And that aforementioned cover song is totally aces. Mathison skillfully captures the band's power without polishing away its blue collar edge. If this sounds like an album that ought to be experienced on vinyl, you're in luck. The band pressed 200 copies that will likely go fast. This release is also available from all the major streaming sites. Don't let me catch you listening at a low volume!