A couple years back, I fell, hard, for a power pop record by a “band” called Oranjuly. Yes, those quotation marks are there for a reason—Oranjuly was the nom de musico of Boston-based singer/songwriter/one-man studio wizard Brian E. King, a devotee of all things Wilson and Rundgren and McCartney and their ilk. Oranjuly’s eponymous debut was a classic-sounding American pop record, a half-hour or so of harmonies and minor-key melodies and hook after hook after blessed hook.
King put together a touring version of Oranjuly and gigged sporadically (the highlight of which was a multi-date support slot for Fountains of Wayne), but has recently hung up the band and the moniker.
“I disbanded Oranjuly because I wasn’t happy with the songs or the band,” King told me recently. “Those songs were literally the first I ever wrote. However, I think people liked them and considering we never toured, we sold a bunch of records and got fantastic press without any label support.”
King has a new band, called Parks, which has just released its first single, “Sweater Weather.” The track is another slice of pop perfection, albeit in a different vein than the Sixties/Seventies purism of Oranjuly. Think of a band like New Pornographers, or their leader, AC Newman, or the fetching British export Lucky Soul, and you’ll have an approximate idea of the pop Parks is peddling.
“Sweater Weather” blasts forth like it belongs in your convertible’s stereo, as you drive to the beach on a warm summer afternoon. King’s voice climbs and climbs in the “Beautiful, you are” refrain, and—what’s that I hear? Can there really be handclaps in the mix? Real, live handclaps?
“The handclaps AND finger snaps on ‘Sweater Weather’ are very real,” King notes, “and were recorded with our mix engineer Ducky Carlisle who has ‘baritone snaps,’ compared to my wimpy ‘soprano snaps’.”
Parks consists of King, Matt Girard (bass), Brian Fitch (drums), Liz McBride (vocals, keys, percussion), and Stu Dietz (lead guitar). The band is currently recording its debut album and playing occasional gigs. “Sweater Weather” is available as a free download on the band’s Bandcamp site.