August 26, 2013

Today's Hotness: The Superman Revenge Squad Band, Joey Sweeney, Heyward Howkins

The Superman Revenge Squad -- A Funny Thing You Said (detail)

>> The brilliant Ben Parker doesn't owe us a damn thing, of course, but jeepers it is hard to keep up with his various enterprises. Our admittedly weak recollection was Croydon, England-based Mr. Parker had lately been working within the band The Jonbarr Hinge [link] and having his plays produced in various theaters. So imagine our surprise to learn that the assumedly moth-balled Superman Revenge Squad project has over the past year been resuscitated once more, expanded, and rebranded The Superman Revenge Squad Band. The act, which features Parker's brother and former Nosferatu D2 bandmate Adam as well as a host of others, will release via Audio Antihero Oct. 14 a new collection titled There Is Nothing More Frightening Than The Passing Of Time. The eight-song set will be on offer in a limited edition of 140 compact discs, and a promotional track has already made its way to the Internerds. The song is "A Funny Thing You Said," and it is something of a Parker classic, as different versions of the tune were released on Superman Revenge Squad's self-titled 2007 EP (which, actually, we can't prove ever existed -- maybe these were just songs we got off MySpace?) and a bootleg, Live At The Green Dragon, released the same year. While those older iterations of the song were spare and raw, the arrangement of the new version practically bursts with melodic ideas thrumming off of tense accordions and wandering saxophones. In one way it sounds like Parker has gone off the deep end finally, but in another it is pure genius. You may recall we've done things like proclaim Parker England's greatest contemporary lyricist, or characterize him here as "startlingly talented," all of which still holds true. You can pre-order There Is Nothing More Frightening Than The Passing Of Time via SRS's Bandcamp wigwam right here. The official release date for the digital single is Sept. 16, but it is a pay-what-you-like download already at Bandcamp, so why delay? While you're listening, read the rest of this blog post, then read this interview we did with Parker five years ago.

>> In the early days of August we dropped knowledge about the forthcoming solo set coming from Philly indie rock lifer Joey Sweeney. To review, Mr. Sweeney's new collection is titled Long Hair and it will be released this fall by Delaware Water Gap, Penn.-based label La Société Expéditionnaire. We now can add to this knowledge base by sharing with you the first full preview track from Long Hair, a nostalgic, piano-punctuated, mid-tempo ballad called "Kate Moss Hologram." The tune -- which we know will be track two of nine, based on this Facebook post -- kicks off with a tossed-off, funny lift from Elton John (you won't miss it), and its rich reverbs and sway-inducing organ evoke memories of long-gone days at the dusty roller rink in the suburbs. But "Kate Moss Hologram" quickly catches up to a relatively more modern remembrance of watching MTV's "120 Minutes" and wanting to get out of town. The latter sentiment is a fairly universal one for kids, and the former for kids of a certain (approaching middle) age. Sentiment and sentimentality -- fortunately always far shy of schmaltz -- have always played a big role in helping Sweeney land emotional punches with his music. Long-time readers will recall our previous reportage indicating Sweeney previously helmed acts including Barnabys, The Joey Sweeney Rock Band, The Trouble With Sweeney and Arctic Splash. There has still been no release date announced for Long Hair, but we imagine that will be coming along soon. While you sit around waiting, stream the excellent "Kate Moss Hologram" early and often via the Soundcloud embed below. We would be remiss if we did not also mention here Sweeney's former The Trouble With Sweeney bandmate Heyward Howkins, who is preparing the release of a beautifully conceived sophomore set of baroque folk rock titled Be Frank, Furness. While a stream of the record was available for a short amount of time earlier this month, presently the only track publicly available is the gentle pop strummer "Nogales," which we highly recommend to your attention. Howkins' solo debut The Hale & Hearty was issued in June 2012 and we reviewed it right here. Stream the new winner "Nogales" via the second embed below.

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