When Pennsylvania post-grunge rockers Superheaven called it quits last year, it didn’t take long for frontman and guitarist Jake Clarke to get to work on his solo material. The hard work paid off with six new songs, which he shares on this 12-inch vinyl split with dreamy punk band Spur.
Clarke encompasses side A of this split release with his six new songs. Gone is the sludgy hard rock of his days in Superheaven in favor or a more indie rock sound. Still present is his deep guitar tones leading the way on tracks like the opening song “Get It Together,” where Clarke’s vocals sound eerily akin to Jackson Brown. The first single, “Yellow Gown” is a pop singalong with a building chorus, while “Ike’s Place” features a slow groove, and the closing track, “Freak Show,” is an ebb and flow of emotions.
Flip the record over and the listener is treated to five songs from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania’s Spur. The one-time side project is one cohesive unit now with Toni Pennello (vocals, guitar); Fabrizio Marra (drums); Andrew Mickowski (guitar, vocals); and James Jaskolka (bass, vocals).
Spur’s side of this split is much more rocking and intense than Clarke. Lead in track “Out Of View” sounds like the Cranberries, only with more balls, and the driving rhythms and catchy hooks on the single “Fire” and “Freeze” are deliciously good. The fuzzed-out guitar work fits perfectly alongside Pennello’s ghostly, yet sometimes angry vocals. “No Wish” and album closer “Moon” showcase the band’s ability to explore other genres, including indie pop and gothic piano work.
Where Jake Clarke’s music was fun and poppy, it had a solo artist feel to it, while Spur’s songs felt more like a cohesive band. Not saying one is better than the other, because both are a wonderful discovery for this music fan.