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coverpic flag US - New Jersey - Full Moon 128 - 03/04/07

Wild Carnation
Lucky Pig Records

Some artists don't excactly rush out records too often and Wild Carnation is in the same exclusive league as Mark Hollis, Scott Walker and The Blue Nile. Superbus is Wild Carnations second album, 12 - that's TWELVE - years since their debut for Delmore Records in 1994. I thought they had disbanded a long time ago and just recently became aware of their continuing existence through a link from seminal New Zealand band The Bats' MySpace page.

The Feelies and their extended family of bands have always meant music with it's own voice in America and quite a distinct one as well. Wild Carnation doesn't shock us with extraordinary news this time but just as, say, sadly missed Go-Betweens and the beforementioned Bats, it's a band we can expect quality from every time. They purvey a blend of the old (VU fronted by Nico) and not so old (New Zealand music in the 80's) and it is always the good melody that is their main goal.

As an avid fan of all things Feelies, I try to check out all related bands and artists. Wild Carnations' bass player Brenda Sauter played on their three latest records back in the 80's/early 90's which is enough for me to give them a fair chance. She also played in The Trypes with other Feelies and Speed The Plough with other Carnations Rich Barnes and Chris O'Donovan. Now a four-piece with Anne Hopkins on Farfisa organ, Wild Carnation is just as good as we can hope for - if not better.

The opening song "The Road To Bielefeld" is quite simply the best new song I have heard this (and probably the rest of the) year. A nervous, jangly guitar opens, then the hi-hat and bass and a distant female voice. Verse two and the Farfisa organ in all its cheesy glory. The chorus is a true revelation that gives me goosebumps on each listen; a heavenly blending of female voices. The bass playing is spectacular on this song (and on the album as a whole), innovative and startling. I bought a copy of the album for my brother's birthday and a text message from him on first hearing revealed a common opinion. You can actually check out this song on their MySpace website. If that doesn't make you want to hear more you don't need to read no further.

The following songs is not in the same league (how could they?) but it never gets less than interesting. At the end of the record, on the last three songs to be precise, things are getting better again; Uptempo Cricket with some nice 12-string guitar fills, the beautiful and eerie (to my ears, at least) "The Eventide" (more Rickenbackers!) and the more laidback Into the Sun closes the album.

Some of their songs run for too long but that is part of the fun in a way with this kind of music. Anyway, a great record and already a contender for record of the year (yeah, I know it was released in 2006...).

So, any chance of a new trip to Bielefeld (via Oslo) sometime?

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