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Music

Joey Sweeney & The Neon Grease Offer Up Single "And Soon" (premiere)

Photo courtesy of Transmission Publicity

Joey Sweeney and band find the beauty and hopefulness in the experience of coming out of loss on "And Soon".

Joey Sweeney has been writing songs and other words since the 1980s. He's fronted bands such as the Barnabys and the Trouble With Sweeney, garnered favorable comparisons to the bands that once occupied AM radio and split his time between the world of rock 'n' roll and the literary sphere. (He's co-curator of the literary fest The 215 Festival and a creative director at Quaker City Mercantile.) His upcoming LP, credited to Joey Sweeney & The Neon Grease (more about that in a moment), Catholic School, is due out September 7 on not one but two labels. Spirits in the material world can snag physical copies on Burnt Toast Vinyl (Sufjan Stevens, Pedro the Lion) while lovers of the intangible can go about purchasing the release via the Giving Groove, a socially-conscious Philadelphia imprint that's also released efforts for Hoots & Hellmouth, the Dead Milkmen and DECONTROL.

To aid in the recording of this new effort Sweeney turned to the incomparable Ray Ketchem (Elk City) for co-production credit. Tracking at Ketchem's acclaimed Magic Door studio, the pair recruited Elk City's Renée LoBue for a little extra help on the track "And Soon", which introduces us to the sounds of things to come from Sweeney and his pack.

Discussing the tune, its author says, "I wanted to write something beautiful and hopeful about the experience of coming out of loss. I liked the idea that ghosts could turn friendly, that in grief you could have the kind of grace that Sandy Denny has on 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes?', which is referenced in the song." He continues, "But the moment I wrote it in was right before this moment now, when it feels even more like I can use this song to steel myself and remind myself to have hope. And so that's what I'm doing. By all means, I'd be honored if anyone felt free to do the same."

The track rests somewhere between the raspy hope of Springsteen and dire heartbreak of Ryan Adams with unexpected flashes of Robert Pollard's melodic and harmonic sensibilities finding their way in through the cracks. Sweeney and LoBue's voices work together to finally form the piece into what Ry Cooder called chicken skin music. For a moment we're lifted out of our pain and transported back to some barely lit room where mere motion, the act of dancing slowly but surely to this tune's steady rhythms might give us hope of permanent relief.

Sweeney claims that each of the songs on the record comes equipped with a saxophone solo, that it's unapologetically dadrock and that it might all sound better if you can listen to the whole effort while wrapped in a Members Only jacket. (Actually, he claims that the record is wearing a Members Only jacket but it might be more fun to join in along with it.)

He adds that "catholic" in the title doesn't necessarily refer to the religion itself but rather from the term indicating "in a wide variety of things; all-embracing", in a sense the antithesis of parochial. And City Grease? Well, think of the neon, the rainy streets, kind of decay that hasn't been seen since Fort Apache, The Bronx. And yet there's hope. And saxophone.

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