Wild Carnation - Tricycle - - RSD 2023
Way back in the 1990s, a young Delmore stumbled into the now defunct NYC nightclub Wetlands (during the sadly also now defunct NYU Independent Music Festival), where Wild Carnation were about to begin their set. Having lived in NYC / Brooklyn / Hoboken the previous decade, where countless memorable gigs by The Feelies, Yung Wu, Trypes, and Speed The Plough had been experienced, it was the chance to see Brenda Sauter fronting her new group that drew Delmore in. A few songs into their set, it was apparent however that this trio was not just a Feelies offshoot, despite some melodic similarities, and Brenda's cool vocals/presence. Wild Carnation played raw, loud and fast (and occasionally out of control), with Richard Barnes’ distorted, melodic guitar lines perfectly colliding with Brenda's propelling bass notes while Chris O'Donovan kept it together, pounding the hell out of the drums. It was a garage-y indie rock mess, more reminiscent of Hib-Tone / Chronic Town era REM, and emergent New Zealand bands like The Bats and The Clean, than the Feelies. Delmore was smitten, and determined to sign them, despite the fact that the Delmore label had not yet released anything.
In 1993, Wild Carnation's debut 7", "Dodger Blue" b/w "The Lights Are On (But No One's Home)", taken from raw home demos recorded the previous year, became the first - or second - Delmore release. A full length album was then commissioned, and an evolving Wild Carnation holed up at Mix-O-Lydian recording studios with engineer Don Sternecker (The Feelies, Speed The Plough, Wake Ooloo, et.al.) to record their debut full length, Tricycle, released in 1994. On Tricycle, the pastoral quality of their most beautiful ballads was captured sensitively / perfectly, while retaining enough of the rawness of the live experience. Waves of critical acclaim followed, from now defunct publications like CMJ Jackpot! Raygun and Trouser Press followed, and this one by the great Jack Rabid of The Big Takeover, written for All Music Guide:
"While the hookline for this new local trio would have to be that bassist/leader Brenda Sauter used to be a member of the later-'80s incarnation of the famous Feelies (and it's notable offshoot, The Trypes), even if you didn't worship at the altar of that group (and especially if you did!), Wild Carnation is a revelation. While the persistent, pumping beat and hard-played jangle guitars of most of the tracks here emanate from her previous band and from their forerunners, the Velvets (especially), Television,and the Byrds - Sauter's beguiling voice is perfect for the ultra-appealing pop hooks the group writes as well as the thoughtful lyrics she composes. Trading the occasional Feelies drone for sugar-sweet melodies (yes!) and utilizing the pretty ring of the guitars to maximum effect, songs such as Wings are the perfect pop confectionery, too honeyed and delightful to miss capturing your bending heart and too consistently insistent and edgy to be wimpy, kind of like Reckoning-era R.E.M. It's all so well captured with pristine production, with balls to match the heart, too! And though the 12 tracks are largely cut from a similar mode, all seem special just the same on their own. A truly shining, first-rate effort, along with Lotion's and Nyack's early EPs and the last Flower LP, the best release to come out of a New York group this decade, and exceptionally crafted at that! Do not miss."