SPARKLE*JETS U.K., beloved icons of the Turn-of-the-Century Southern California guitar pop scene, are most assuredly back. BIG STIR RECORDS is proud to announce not only the June 30 release of the band’s first album in over 20 years, BEST OF FRIENDS, on 2-LP Vinyl and CD in record stores everywhere and streaming worldwide, but a veritable multimedia renaissance for the band throughout 2023. Bringing back not just the vibes of the scene that birthed them but the songs as well, SJUK’s jaw-dropping new double album is both a love letter of a tribute to the artists with whom they shared stages, and a thrilling revelation of those lost sounds to those who missed them the first time around.

Already heralded by the lead single, a cover of THE MASTICATORS’ “He’s Coming Out”, BEST OF FRIENDS boasts 21 sparkling, punchy, hook-flled tracks across its four sides of wax, all originally recorded by the band’s sterling peers on the late ’90s LA pop scene. Think WONDERMINTS, THE ANDERSONS, THE SHAZAM, COCKEYED GHOST and more, with versions of STEW & THE NEGRO PROBLEM’s “Mahnsanto” and THE SUGARPLASTIC’s “Another Myself” slated for release as subsequent singles. Each track is lovingly served up in the inimitable SJUK style, and the full album is almost dizzying in its rush of pure power pop delight.

It’s a full-circle return for the Long Beach-based trio, consisting now as then of vocalist/guitarist SUSAN WEST, bassist JAMIE KNIGHT, and singer/multi-instrumentalist MICHAEL SIMMONS who also takes most drumming duties for the current edition of SPARKLE*JETS U.K (with Joel Valder sitting in on three tracks). The band has hardly been dormant for the decades since releasing their two widely admired albums In, Through And Beyond in 1998 and 2001’s Bamboo Lounge, nor have they ever gone their separate ways. In addition to Simmons’ continuing output as a solo artist (the acclaimed 2018 album First Days Of Sumer) and with Popdudes, SJUK joined the Big Stir Records family in 2019 for a special 7” tribute to Big Star recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis with Jody Stephens on board. And all three ‘jets have been a part of creating the extraordinary (and very much pop-rock oriented) music program at Huntington Beach High School. The band’s 2023 renaissance, though, is something altogether bigger, and this new collection is just the start, with a full album of SJUK originals already completed for release next year.

But we’re here to talk about BEST OF FRIENDS, whose mission is right there in the double meaning of its title: it consists of songs by the band’s true friends from the late ’90s and early 2000s LA pop scene, and it serves as a veritable “Best Of” collection for those unfamiliar with that era’s delights. Destined to have a reach beyond its impact as a superb pop rock record, BEST OF FRIENDS is more of a multi-media event than a simple album release. Along with the singles and their inevitable companion music videos, the album’s publicity campaign incorporates a weekly podcast (also entitled BEST OF FRIENDS) which captures SPARKLE*JETS U.K. in candid conversation with the artists covered on the album, bridging the gap between the fondly remembered adventures and recordings of yesteryear and the fresh, bracing versions on the new LP.

And the media itself bears mentioning, not just because this is the first SJUK record to bow in the streaming era. The gorgeous double LP package includes complementary colored vinyl discs in powder blue and tangerine orange. There is of course a CD edition with a foldout replica of the vinyl’s gatefold. And copies of both formats purchased via Big Stir’s online points of sale will come with a genuine vintage treat for fans: the original 2000 CD of the Various Artists Tribute collection I w sparkle*jets u.k., a veritable inverted prequel to BEST OF FRIENDS whereupon the band’s millennial contemporaries paid homage to them. It’s a lot to take in… best to sit back and watch it all unfold over the course of a pure-pop-saturated summer.

But it is most deservedly sparklejets u.k. who stand tall as the band of the hour on this vital revisitation of these tunes they know by heart. The amazing vocal and all-around instrumental prowess of Simmons has never been more clearly on display, nor West’s singing more invitingly impassioned in bringing the belters to life, while KNIGHT owns the low end with the perfect pulses, grooves and tasty fills these sterling songs demand. The songs are such a perfect ft for the SJUK chemistry that if you didn’t know differently, you’d think the trio had spent the past twenty years quietly writing the best guitar pop songs ever, until the day arrived when they could be quiet no longer. And the truth is, you wouldn’t be wrong, as the future, and another stellar record, will reveal. But that’s a story for another day: BEST OF FRIENDS is just the beginning of a new lease on musical life for our heroes, and they can still write ’em just as well as they can play them. For now, though, turn it up loud as SPARKLEJETS U.K. take fight once again, shattering the sound barrier between yesterday and tomorrow and paying loving tribute to their BEST OF FRIENDS.

SOURCE: Official Bio