“The Sparrow’s Morning War Cry” is an album from Justin John Scheck. From what I gathered, this album is the third installment of four that fits into his grand opus called “The Blue Collar Diaries.” I appreciate this ambitious idea, especially in a time where singles and playlists seem to be the norms. 

“The Sparrow’s Dreams (Remix) Explicit” unleashes with spacious piano notes, electronic percussion, chant-like vocals, and more. The star of the show is the lead vocals performed by Scheck. He has the ability to convey a circus of emotion from yearning to relief and anger. Just listen to when he sings, “I am neither King nor Queen nor Jack nor Joker; I am but the dreams of the Sparrow in the corner. And we will harvest memory; we will gather our love in bad roles.” 

What an opener! 

“Rebirth (But You) (Remix)” is much more of a soundscape in ways, but this is a ride that envelops you in distortion and feedback, massive drums, and soaring vocals. In some ways, it felt like one giant build that could go on forever. “The Sea Is Red (Remix)” was a standout and, in ways, the most accessible song because of the vocals. Scheck takes advantage of his baritone. There are two distinct vocal parts in the chorus that, when combined, create the most fabulous moments on the album. Scheck really does a great job melding together disparate parts into very original sounding sections. 

There’s an artist I got really into called the Caretaker a couple of years ago, and “Of Us From Us (Remix)” had a similar flavor, although with percussion and is in some ways more contemporary sounding. I’m not sure if I was hearing vocals or what on this song, but it sounded like a ghost that was crying. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I have no idea how else to describe it. 

“It’s A Cryin’ Shame (Remix)” exudes the energy of a live band performance, a bold and aggressive rock hybrid that teeters on the edge of chaos but never succumbs to it. “Beneath The Waves (Remix)” is another adventure into experimentation. There were aesthetics here that reminded me of Radiohead, but I would say there’s this mystical, almost Eastern feeling to the song. I felt like I was traveling in ancient lands across the sand of Persia. Scheck sings, “Oh my god, you’re coming up. You’re coming up so fast beneath the weight beneath the waves.” 

“Out Of Sorts (Remix)” was another high point for me and, in some ways, another very accessible song. This is one of his top-tier vocal performances, and it goes against the music in a way that just makes it feel novel and imaginative. “She Said (Remix)” has a free jazz-like quality with wailing guitars, distortion coming from every angle, and this military-tight snare roll. The vocals are limited here but perhaps one of the strongest lyrics I’ve heard, “Long dead Roses, the razor is red. Dust off my broken heart and climb out of bed.” 

“My Soul (Remix)” closes out the album and is creepy, dark, and dreamlike. He sounds a little bit like Marilyn Manson on this song, but the song gets into orchestral territory, then gets in this dark groove. It’s a wild ride. Scheck doesn’t rest on his laurels. Every song felt like he was trying to test himself. This is a very good album that is not for the faint of heart..

Garth Thomas