Yesterday’s post explored multiple, same-day releases and the Sandinista! effect (the proportion of filler found in voluminous records), and concluded with a promise to feature a 2011 local release (three lps!). Here it is.
October 6, 2011: Big White Circle, Liquid Silver and Red Rose in a Yellow Army
Like the three Peter, Paul and Mary solo LPs of 1971, the Sudden Lovelys’ three 2011 releases didn’t all appear on the same day in Springsteen/G n R form. Late last winter Red Rose in a Yellow Army introduced the duo – Danny Ferarro and Paige Prescher – as a brooding, singer-songwriter act. It would probably have become lost in the well-tread woods of Romantica if it weren’t for Ferarro’s percussive arrangements. Already (without the steamer trunk) the Sudden Lovelys can make you stomp your feet when they want to. It’s fantastic in it’s simplicity – Fingers, hands, feet. Red Rose has moments as creepily grooving as Rain Dogs, arranged for two persons and a guitar.
By the duo’s October show at the Ritz Theater, which presented all three releases on vinyl, they had introduced a heavier percussive sound using a steamer trunk and a tambourine, which took their sound further back into the realm of Exuma and one-off rhythmic tracks like Leonard Cohen’s “There is a War”. The second two albums – Big Red Circle and Liquid Silver – run a little faster and on higher octane than than the first, although at times the heaviest tracks feel like demos for a fuller band. “Waxwing Birds” – the track up above – comes from Big White Circle.
How would the albums fare on the Sandinista! scale (surely measured between one and thirty-six)? Probably somewhere in the middle along with the various multiple-releases highlighted in yesterday’s post. The truth is they’re all stuffed with filler and the highlights of each would be better served by a single LP release.
Red Rose‘s “Battle Zone” is, lyrically, one of the most compelling tracks on the three albums, in as much as it seems to be deep in the heart of the entire tryptic. It and “The Book You Wrote” imply the records’ central anxieties into larger issues most effectively, pushing the love story narratives into deeper, philosophical directions.
With “Battle Zone” Ferarro struggles to be definitive, let alone anthematic, but he puts in a solid effort in as much as he knowingly contradicts himself (“I went through what you went through and I know you” / “I don’t really even think I know you”). The ambiguity and uncertainty makes for compelling music, and makes me myself wonder if Ferarro has kids, frankly. Red Rose is the most rewarding of the three (Even if my favorite tracks to hear come out of Big White Circle).
I have struggled to answer the questions people ask, even with copies of the albums to play in the shop. Which one should you buy? I dunno. Twelve or fourteen dollars or whatever it costs is an awful lot of money and I know that. Triple that and thirty or forty bucks is prohibitive. It’s hard enough to get people to consider buying a local record without all the goddamn ambiguity, and that’s my number one complaint about the three Sudden Lovelys lps.
The earnest, captivating “Dirty Rotten Apple” (Big White Circle) has become a favorite of ours recently, along with “Dear Machine” (Liquid Silver). There’s a track that captures the darker direction that third record pushes into:
There’s something warm, even familiar about these albums. Daniel Ferarro performs on a bicycle seat mounted on top of an old-time steamer trunk – It’s how the Sudden Lovelys get the percussive sound that’s likely to become their trademark. And there’s something about that trunk…
Here’s a picture of the Sudden Lovelys which ran in the City Pages‘ Gimme Noise blog here:
Here’s the “coffee table” in our living room: