Album Premiere & Track By Track: Stoner Control – ‘Sparkle Endlessly’

On Sparkle Endlessly, out March 19 on the Sound Judgement Records imprint, Stoner Control sound like themselves. This is a feat achieved by virtue of the trio honing their skills as individual songwriters and musicians and as a working group. Singer/guitarist Charley Williams, singer/bassist Sam Greenspan and drummer Mike Cathcart are each diligent students of their craft.

New Noise Magazine is proud to premiere Sparkle Endlessly in full below:

Shimmering guitars permeate the album’s 37 minutes. Guitars on “Only” gallop along at a pace that would make Johnny Marr blush, while Catchart’s drums chug like Dinosaur Jr’s “Just Like Heaven” cover. On “Open Ocean” the group experiments with each other’s instruments, Williams on drums, Cathcart on bass, and Greenspan on guitar. It’s a testament to the group’s mutual respect, and that doesn’t always come easy.

Like most things, bands come and go. Today’s song of the day ends up in next week’s bargain bin. It takes a lot to sustain anything, let alone a relationship dependent on multiple axis points. Common goals must be communicated and committed to. It takes intention, trust, and a mutual sense of both respect and admiration. Stoner Control have grown together as a band and they’ve grown into a band comfortable in their own skin, and comfortable being themselves. On their most collaborative album so far, they make a bid not just for endurance but for the eternal.

On the album’s release, Williams states:

“In a way I think of this as our first album. We were functioning more as a unit on this one than any of our past releases. It was an extremely collaborative effort that could not have been achieved with just one person’s vision. We made an effort to break from our traditional verse-chorus pop song structure that we had on our last two albums. The arrangements sometimes take a left turn and I think that really became the ‘sound’ of this record.”


Here’s our exclusive album Track By Track with Stoner Control:

“Way You Look At Me” (Charley Williams):

This song was written almost directly after our last album “Alone in the City.” I came up with the vocal melody in my head while driving then formed the rest of the song around it. This is also the first co-write between Sam (Greenspan) and I, as Sam wrote the lyrics and chords for the bridge!

“Learning to Swim” (Sam Greenspan):

I came up with the idea for this song years ago, while picking up my partner from work back when she was a swim teacher. Learning to Swim almost has an immigrant mindset of “If I can’t fulfill my dreams at home, I’ll go somewhere with better opportunity and do it.” It extends and echoes that, like I have so little control over changing a situation but maybe I can control how I face it. But when you have a problem that’s so big and ridiculous like global warming that requires a collective solution, as an individual what can you really do? Ultimately, it makes wonder if Bob Dylan ever had a demo of “Learning to build a bomb shelter” before he wrote “A Hard Rain’s Gunna Fall” or what Ziggy Stardust would do about global warming. Maybe I’ll have my answer when Greta Thunberg finally puts out a record. 

“Sparkle Endlessly” (Charley Williams):

This one started with me playing the guitar solo at the end. It is basically just a hammer-on exercise that the whole song was shaped around. Then the song really grew in the practice room, and once we had the bridge where the trumpet solo would eventually end up, I think we were all extremely stoked on the track.

“Only” (Charley Williams):

Another pseudo-love song. I came up with the riff and it reminded me of Built to Spill, who I obviously love. But I felt that we had already done the Built to Spill sounding sound more times than we could count. So, I experimented with the Chorus pedal and it turned it into this very Cure/Smiths sounding riff. I think it’s a standout track on the album. Mo Troper who mixed and produced the album did an amazing job mixing this one.

“Open Ocean” (Sam Greenspan):

It was really special to me that Mike and Charley, consummate musicians they are, were comfortable being so vulnerable, swapping instruments, so Mike laid down the bass and Charley manned the drum kit (any iteration with me on drums would be chaos). I think that comes through in the song where you can hear us trying to hear each other. And with Mo Troper’s suggestion, we leaned towards Big Star with the chimey down strums with the rhythm guitar.

“In the Park, in the Sun”(Michael Cathcart):

This one is an undeniable banger, probably the hardest hitting track on the record. Although I’m not sure if my love for it is colored by the fact that the opening guitar riff reminds me of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash. I really dig what Sam did with the bassline too, he keeps it nice and active throughout. Aside from laying down the bass on Open Ocean, this track proved to be my biggest challenge in the studio. After we played it through the first time, Mo suggested a number of changes to the drum part which forced me to re-learn the song on the fly while the tape was rolling. Despite my internal protestation, his suggestions were on point and ultimately led us to produce a much stronger track. Although, I wish we’d added in more piano parts…but I think I say that about all of our songs. And Charley must be a secret clairvoyant or something because, even though he wrote it in 2019, this one ended up capturing the quarantine aesthetic perfectly, talking about meeting up in a park. 

“The Best Thing” (Charley Williams):

I originally intended this song to be just me and an acoustic guitar. But once we practised it as a band, it became clear how we needed to present it. I love this one. I’m also really proud that this song is done completely live, with the exception of vocal overdubs.

“I Know I Slept” (Michael Cathcart):

This tune was actually written way back in 2014. In fact, when Sam moved back to Portland after grad school, it was the first song that all three of us jammed on together. With that anthemic guitar lead and the drums and bass slipping right down into the pocket, I instantly knew we had something special there. Sam and Charley had so many new ideas at the time though that we just got distracted by other songs and left it by the wayside. But I never let us forget about it entirely, and when we started working on songs for the new album I insisted we give it another look. This time it stuck! In the end, I think we were meant to let it marinate in the back of our minds for a few years in order to find the perfect groove, just a little behind the beat. And, if you listen closely, at the very end of the track you can hear my vocal contribution.

“Elevator World” (Michael Cathcart):

Of all the songs that made it onto the album, I think I had the most fun developing the beat and eventually laying down the drums for this one. It also leaves me dripping with sweat every time like I just tried to guard CJ McCollum for all 48 minutes. I mean, it’s fast with no breaks and a ton of beat changes, you couldn’t ask for a better cardio workout. And as a testament to that, the beat is always on the verge of falling apart right at the end as my forearm throbs while I ride the 16th notes on the cymbal through the outro. Elevator World? More like Broken Escalator World! *cue comic rimshot*

“Cntl-F” (Sam Greenspan):

There’s this old story I remember hearing as a kid from a Rabbi, where a number of blind men encounter an unknown. Using their hands, they argue over whether it is a snake, a spear, a rope or a wall. And I never really thought about it again until recently. Cntl-F is a search function I employ daily, that has saved researchers and students around the globe years of their life as they build towers of data, one Lego at a time. It also fuels trolls and conspiracy theories. Coupled with the internet, it’s a powerful tool that isolates and decontextualizes an answer, devoid of meaning, with no regard for how much stock you should put in it or the conditions under when it is possibly true. The answer you want isn’t always the answer you need, which syncs up with a similar line in “The Way You Look at Me.” As it turns out the blind men were faced with an elephant but due to their hubris, were unable to figure it out themselves. Cntl-F is a groovy, overly caffeinated and paranoid opposite of Open Ocean.

Pre-order and stream Sparkle Endlessly here.

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