After three years in The Rentals (fronted by ex-Weezer bassist, Matt Sharp), Texas-born Los Angeles-based songwriter/musician Sara Radle (formerly of Lucy Loves Schroeder, Calamity Magnet) has returned to her critically acclaimed solo career.
In early 2010, Sara went into the studio with Grammy award winning engineer Dennis Moody recording her much anticipated fourth solo record, influenced by girl groups of the 60s, The Beach Boys, and classic punk rock. Sara also began playing shows with her solo project again in early 2010, starting with a show with Goldenboy at The Press in Claremont in February and opening up for The Webb Brothers at Spaceland in Silverlake that April.
"Four" was released in September of 2010. Sara is currently writing music for her next album, which she plans to record herself. Stay tuned for more details about that and other upcoming shows!
2002 Fort Worth Weekly Music Award - Artist of the Year
2002 Dallas Observer Music Award - Best New Artist
2002 Dallas Observer Music Award - Best Female Vocalist
2001 FW Weekly Music Award - Best Female Vocalist
Live, Sara plays as a five piece band (guitars, bass, keys, drums), as well as three female back-up singers.
- SOLO, Four, LP, coming Fall, 2010
- WALKING SLEEP, Measures, LP, coming May 25, 2010
- CALAMITY MAGNET, self-titled, EP, 2008
- THE RENTALS, Last Little Life EP, 2007
- SOLO, People You've Been Before EP, 2004
- SOLO, You Can't Make Everybody Like You, LP, 2004
- LUCY LOVES SCHROEDER, self-titled, LP, 2001
- LUCY LOVES SCHROEDER, Dragon Lady, EP, 2001
- SOLO, jellybeanswithbellybuttons, LP, 2000 (Released under the name Fred Savage Fanclub)
- LUCY LOVES SCHROEDER, Seven Inch Jellyfish, vinyl EP, 2000
- LUCY LOVES SCHROEDER, It's A Hamster Christmas Charlie Brown, LP, 1998
FOOLING NOBODY (from upcoming fourth solo record, due out in early Fall of 2010)
BAXTER HILL (from upcoming fourth solo record, due out in early Fall of 2010)
THE LONELY KING (from upcoming fourth solo record, due out in early Fall of 2010)
Sleep It Off - 2004
A Mess Like You - 2004
Nobody's Watching - 2004
Dallas Observer Interview / Review - 2005
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On Wednesday night, the smart drunks come out. And for good reason: Bars have perks during the week,...On Wednesday night, the smart drunks come out. And for good reason: Bars have perks during the week, including cheaper drinks, easier parking and less annoying crowds. There isn't much music during the hump, however, and the few musicians who do land weeknight gigs are often open-mike lackeys or, um, open-mike lackeys.
With this in mind, I wasn't too excited about checking out Lower Greenville's Muddy Waters for a Wednesday-night show. I had drinking to do, for chrissakes. But when I walked into the bar, Sara Radle and Her Band were onstage, and I wondered if I was already drunk. Sara Radle? The lead singer from Lucy Loves Schroeder, Dallas' most prominent pop-punk band, playing an acoustic show complete with flute, piano and backup singers? For once, I could enjoy a Wednesday-night concert. Fun and low-key, Radle and her five bandmates smiled at each other as they played an hour of nicely arranged pop, and it was light-years ahead of anything I'd heard from LLS's three-chord attack.
Last week, I sat down with Radle to ask about her new direction in music. Abandoning Lucy Loves Schroeder, their deal with Beatville Records and Radle's cushy spot in Dallas' pop-punk scene is a bold move in a town where singer-songwriters rarely reach top billing, but Radle hopes her latest release, You Can't Make Everybody Like You, doesn't quite live up to its name.
"I started Lucy Loves Schroeder when I was 17," says Radle (who is also the Dallas Observer's music listings editor), now 25, "and that's what I was listening to--pop-punk-pop-punk, all the time--so that's what I wrote. Also, I wasn't a very good guitar player. Not that I'm phenomenal now, but it's a lot easier to play pop-punk and start a pop-punk band."
Radle grew up in San Antonio with folksinging parents and piano lessons and choir at a young age. Music was never as much a choice as an ingrained part of her life. It's the kind of story not quite befitting her old style in LLS, whose snarl-toothed Lucy Is a Band seems the polar opposite of the cheerful woman sitting before me.
"As the years went by," Radle says, "I started writing things that were a little more challenging, things that were beyond the scope of a three-piece band."
Radle wrote and arranged all the new songs herself, and what's more, she played every instrument on You Can't, the first release from Jeez Louise, a label she started with her boyfriend and bandmate, former [DARYL] guitarist Dave Wilson. (The pAper chAse's John Congleton recorded the album at the paper house and Last Beat.) Her own songs, her own production, her own label? Radle laughs off the idea that she was ever Dallas' pop-punk princess, but considering the work and growth she's undertaken these days, "queen" may be a better fit.
Her songwriting has matured on all fronts, even more so than under her old solo moniker Fred Savage Fan Club. The songs closest to standard pop-rock fare are sprinkled with harmony vocals and playful keyboard lines, while other songs take advantage of slower, more deliberate arrangements. "Betty Page," in particular, is a tensely arranged battle between bass guitar and piano that sounds like a road trip co-piloted by Liz Phair and Mary Timony. Furthermore, Radle has made progress with her plaintive lyrical approach, and the many-angled dissection of breaking up throughout You Can't is the kind of stuff that could make teenage girls sell their Avril Lavigne CDs in droves.
The separate developments come together in charming moments; near the end of "Nothing Charming," Radle pleads, "I hope you don't hate me now," over a sudden flourish of drums, organ and guitar. Even the mightiest guys may grab their speakers and whisper, "Of course I don't!" in response. "2.5" succeeds by turning the division of post-breakup possessions into a quick-lipped pop frenzy whose keyboards graduated from Elvis Costello University with flying colors.
"It's definitely a breakup record," Radle says. "It's not like I haven't broken up before, but I used to always keep in mind the person I was writing about. What would they think if they heard this? Then I reached a point where I realized I should write for me and not care what people think. I guess it's a little blunt."
Talk about an understatement. "Sure You've Heard" is a gloveless affair that comes out swinging with "You ask why I don't call/And you've got no clue at all/Well, I can't tell you everything you want to hear." Meanwhile, "A Mess Like You" wears a catchy melody to disguise its depression, and "Stupid Little Circles" accepts the slings and arrows of former friends with head held high. Radle's balance of confidence and humility may not win over all listeners, but it's much easier to swallow than a Jagged Little Pill.
Let's not lose sight of the album's context, though; it's not quite Horses or Exile From Guyville. Rather, the importance of You Can't is the way it bridges Radle's musical past and present, and it's a promising document of where she may be headed.
"I don't even know where it's going," Radle says. "In a three-piece, I'd write songs within those means. Now it's like, 'Oh, wait, I can have violin.' Or, 'I can add flute to this part.' If I know I have those instruments, I'll write them into the song. We always joke that we're going to need bleachers like the Polyphonic Spree, the way I'm adding parts."
This enthusiasm spilled into talk about the record label. Jeez Louise Records started as a means of self-releasing You Can't,but it grew into a full-on, multiband affair designed to release local albums without charging bands for studio time. Radle and Wilson expressed confidence in this artist-friendly approach and its shot at success, if only on a small scale for now.
"I started listening to different things, especially Liz Phair and Elliott Smith," says Sara Radle, whose CD You Can't Make Everybody Like You comes out this week, "and I started challenging myself to write things that weren't just three-chord punk songs."
Sara Radle and Her Band will perform at a CD release party for You Can't Make Everybody Like You at the Liquid Lounge at 10 p.m. on January 31, with I Love Math and The Happy Bullets. They play every Wednesday at Muddy Waters.
"It's not hard to put out a record," Radle says. "That's where it all came from. Dave started building his studio, and we figured, 'Why not help out other bands, get their stuff out locally?' Honestly, we'll probably break even, and right now that's our highest hope." She continues, "The label is all about helping out bands. There are a lot of great bands in Dallas, and we just want to make [putting out records] a little easier on them."
"We've been around long enough," Wilson adds, "and we both have enough resources to book just about anywhere we want to book a show locally. It grew from there: We can book for other bands, promote other bands, promote ourselves; we can record ourselves, put out the record ourselves."
In part, this is why both Radle and Wilson gave up status as recognizable fixtures in the Dallas music scene--their stature gave them confidence to take professional steps. Radle has more freedom in her songwriting, and Wilson has more responsibility with a studio and label. Considering how much they smile onstage these days, it looks like the right choice.
I asked Radle what encouragement she might offer to girls who want to make it in a male-dominated local music scene. Her response, however, was perfectly unisex.
"You won't get shows without a demo," she says. Wilson added, "You won't get a demo without songs." Radle threw in other generally positive advice: Don't give up, find people who are as passionate about music as you are and so on. Still, it was obvious that she couldn't care less about the female angle I kept trying to suggest, and furthermore, her confidence made me feel a bit silly for mentioning it. After all, anybody can make it happen in local music--no matter the genre or the gender--with hard work and confidence. Still, being queen doesn't hurt.
Dallas Observer Interview - 2007
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Well, we guess that's the sort of stuff that can happen when you let your kids wander off to Los Ang...Well, we guess that's the sort of stuff that can happen when you let your kids wander off to Los Angeles—they come back with all sorts of crazy notions in their heads. Like, get this, singer-songwriter and former Dallas Observer employee Sara Radle actually wants you to believe that not everything you read on the Internet is true.
Sara Radle, top left, says the Rentals would play in a parking lot. Or, presumably, a library.
The Rentals perform Monday, September 10, at House of Blues.
Sara Radle, Lucy Loves Schroeder, The Rentals
Yeah, yeah. We know. The girl goes off to Southern Cali to pair up musically with that guy from the Rentals, Matt Sharp, and the next thing you know, she's doubting the source of Dallas' music gospel.
Specifically, the former front woman for punk/pop trio Lucy Loves Schroeder says that contrary to a nasty Internet rumor, the newly reincarnated Rentals, now touring in support of their recent EP, This Last Little Life, have not refused to play when audiences were too small.
"That simply didn't happen," Radle says. "I know that such an excuse was floating around on some message boards, but if need be, this band would set up in a parking lot and play, and sometimes the shows for small crowds are the best shows anyway."
Hopefully, Dallas can do better than that when the San Antonio native returns to Big D, where she lived before heading out to Los Angeles. It was 2005, and Radle was preparing to record her third solo record when she got an offer she couldn't refuse.
"Matt Sharp and I have been friends and e-mail buddies for a long time," Radle says, speaking of the former member of Weezer and the Rentals. "He told me that he was falling back in love with the three-minute pop song and was thinking about getting the Rentals back together."
Sharp did more than think about it, as the third incarnation of the quirky, Moog-driven geek-pop band started coming together a few months later.
"It was an intimidating task to take on," Radle says. "I was between solo records, so Matt and I just played every day and pieced the rest of the band together."
Radle had previously written a ballad with Sharp in mind, so it wasn't much of a leap to collaborating with him full-time. "When Matt asked me to join the band, it just seemed like the right thing to do for me," Radle says.
This Last Little Life, the first new music to be released in almost a decade under the Rentals moniker, features a reworked version of the Rentals' classic "Sweetness and Tenderness," and the EP doesn't stray too far from the melodious mix of cheesy pop and nerd rock that made the original band favorites on MTV in the mid-'90s. The new manifestation even throws "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams," an obscure Weezer b-side, onto the set list.
"I have...been a fan of Matt for a long time," says Radle, whose solo releases (especially 2004's You Can't Make Everybody Like You and the People You've Been Before EP) garnered much critical ballyhoo and a healthy local following for her sumptuous way with words and melody. "I feel that Matt's songwriting style and mine fit well together."
The EP and accompanying tour have received rave reviews, with the nerdy and bespectacled Sharp appearing energetic and reinvigorated as the multi-instrumental dexterity of Radle has opened up new avenues of sound—so much so that Sharp and Radle plan on going into the studio soon to record a full-length effort to be released next spring.
"We haven't begun the recording process as of yet," Radle says. "We will continue the demo process and piece together a full-length for next year."
Radle is happy to be a part of a working band again, but she isn't ready to abandon her solo ambitions.
"I have a lot of home demos that I've been working on," Radle says. "I've been recording songs on my laptop, and I've started this new project called Calamity Magnet and will play some solo shows once this tour is finished.
"Right now the Rentals are my priority, and I will fit in my solo stuff when I can."
Radle is hoping the Dallas tour stop will be one to remember as several friends and family members should be in attendance.
"I am looking forward to seeing a bunch of people who I haven't seen in a while," she says. "Right now, my cell phone number is my last piece of identity as a Texan."
Set lengths can vary from 35 minutes to an hour.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.