Primary Colors, Traditional Sounds
It’s an easy temptation for bands to have as many members as possible, especially early in their careers. Crowded stages full of musicians are a common sight at local shows, even if you can’t audibly discern if all those instruments are actually plugged in. Got to get as many of your musically inclined friends involved as possible, y’know.
Yellow Red Sparks employ the opposite approach and are about as stripped-down as you can get: acoustic guitar, upright bass and drums. (Despite the presence of an upright and their being from Orange County, they aren’t rockabilly/psychobilly in the slightest. Phew.) This simple-but-never-simplistic sound has gained them a fair amount of local acclaim, such as being one of five acts in the “best live acoustic” finals for the OC Music Awards this year. They play regularly in both OC and LA, with Las Vegas and Phoenix dates coming up next week. This March, the trio released their debut six-song EP, Simply Put Me In Your Place, on iTunes.
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Lead singer Josh Hanson’s vocals are highlighted throughout the record, especially in the tender “Four Steps In Corsets,” on which it’s not hard to make Conor Oberst parallels. One of the side effects of a band playing as often as Yellow Red Sparks, though, is that quite a few of their current live favorites didn’t make the cut on the EP, such as “A Play to End All Plays,” which features the unavoidable refrain of “and the tickets were free.”
Pretty much everything about Yellow Red Sparks, from their sound and lyrics to their onstage attire and demeanor, is old-school, but they don’t come across as a phony nostalgia act. “Happiness Comes In a Box,” another song off the EP, sounds like it could have been written at any point in the past century, but that’s actually kinda cool.
Yellow Red Sparks with the New Limb, Honeypie and We Are the Pilots at eVocal, 814 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-4548; www.evocal.com. Sat., 8 p.m. $7. All ages.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: firstname.lastname@example.org.