Written by Tim Janchar
Stretch Out the Spark is a solo project written and recording during the pandemic, but the concepts and issues that the songs reflect and ruminate on span a much bigger topography than just that experience. Many questions and some answers come out as the songs address confusion and growth as we age, class struggle, and confronting inter and intrapersonal demons. Musically the strong and raw guitar playing recalls a time when most punks could quote any song off BILLY BRAGG’s Back to Basics, with the kind of smart, introspective lyrics that Devon Williams penned for OSKER’s second and final album that got them kicked off Epitaph. Like an acoustic version of LEATHERFACE, the album’s provisional recording style and unapologetic narrative is in the same ethos that made All Hail West Texas by MOUNTAIN GOATS so timeless. The cassette is accompanied by a zine of lyrics, original writings, and the collected essays that GUSSIN had written for Razorcake during the pandemic. Side B of the cassette is a collage of recorded noises and snippets of tunes meant to be listened to while reading the zine. I had received the album just before departing for tour in Brazil and listened to it while on lengthy bus rides between cities. Staring out at the passing foreign landscape traveling many hours to play punk music for small groups of people in makeshift venues can be exhilarating, exhausting, and especially confusing. But the album was, in its own small way, able to answer some of those existential questions that creep in during sleep deprived travel – or during a pandemic.