Superhero Killer's name and logo — a pair of bloody and broken Superman-like spectacles — suggest that the band is intent on killing its idols. But the four-person act is something of a supergroup itself, comprising hard-gigging lifers and well-traveled session men. Donald Williams, of '80s mainstays Sinister Dane and the late '90s/early '00s group Getaway Car, leads the group with driving, funky bass lines and a weathered and soulful voice. He's been underground for some time, so The EP is a nice look at how he's both maintained his chops and refined his style. Williams is joined by former bandmates Jay Summers on guitar and Grover Stewart (of the Brothers Lazaroff, among others) on drums. Keyboardist Jesse Gannon is the young gun here, and his ability to mix in soulful organ, jazz piano and hip-hop synth hits gives Superhero Killer a flexible sound. Gannon's fluidity meshes nicely with Summers' more jazz-oriented licks and Stewart's syncopations, especially on the breakdown that accompanies the coda of closing track "World."
With such a wrecking crew that's able to leap several genres in a single song, Superhero Killer defies easy categorization. Stewart's beats keep the rhythms rooted in straight-ahead rock & roll, though Summers has little use for big power chords. He favors clean, lightly chorused lines atop Williams' more driving bass lines. A sense of uptown funk comes out in the character study "Faster," which displays Stewart's dizzying and nuanced beat-keeping; his hi-hat work alone makes the disc worth a listen. Opening track "Keep On Riding" is a fitting intro to a new band made up of familiar faces — in it, Williams thinks back to his younger days when passion and fuel were at his fingertips. And that's the strength of this five-song EP; these men don't pretend to be boys anymore but play smart, slick funk- and soul-driven rock & roll music with the weight of middle age and past glories hanging just above their heads. And that doesn't dampen the songs; it gives them something real to push against.