Wild Carnation: Tricycle (1994)

Between the 1991 release of the Feelies' final album of their original run, and the band's return to the studio in 2011, most members found other outlets for their musical passions. Frontman Glenn Mercer and percussionist Dave Weckerman soldiered on with Wake Ooloo; drummer Stanley Demeski played on the first few Luna albums.

Meanwhile, bassist Brenda Sauter released a pair of albums with Wild Carnation. The band's sound is somewhere between the post-punk jangle of the Feelies (particularly their second and third albums) and the more pastoral, folk-oriented work of Feelies-adjacent band Speed the Plough. (Indeed, Sauter had appeared on albums by StP and its predecessor, the Trypes, while Wild Carnation bandmates Richard Barnes and Christopher O'Donovan had logged time with StP as well.)

Tricycle, one of my favorite Feelies-related releases, is a laid-back, largely understated record, shooting more for quiet ambience than swing-for-the-rafters statements. Sauter, who offered occasional, unobtrusive backing vocals to the Feelies to balance Mercer's Dylanesque rasp, sings like she's still providing harmony backdrops, blending into the musical tapestry more than lofting above it. The persistent jangle and Sauter's pretense-free delivery make for a gently pleasant, atmospheric affair, the record more apt as Sunday afternoon backdrop than as a front-and-center attention-grabber (in marked contrast to the Feelies' boisterous 1991 swan song).

That said, plenty of tracks stand out. Opener "The Rising Tide" works a frenetic, droning groove, a slithering riff that merits a clockwise twist of the volume knob; "Acid Rain and 'The Big One'" has a lovely, playful melody, a more distinctive chorus and melodic vocal delivery than found elsewhere; "Dodger Blue" is a nice throwback to the jangle pop of the Feelies' classic The Good Earth; the instrumental "No Doors In Kansas" has a harder rocking garage band sound that places it closer to Mercer's Wake Ooloo territory, as does the jaunty "The Lights Are On," one of the album's more electric tunes; and the closing "Shaker Tune" sees the album out on a joyfully mellow note.

Wild Carnation's second album, 2006's Superbus, is a much more varied affair, Sauter pushing herself vocally while the band adds some keyboards and moves beyond Tricycle's stripped-down earthiness.

(BTW, you can read my run-down of the Feelies' discography and related side projects over on Toppermost.) 

Here's an audio rip of "The Rising Tide":
...and "Dodger Blue":
Here's "The Lights Are On," with video from some random film; don't ask me.
 Here's a live clip of "The State You're In":