The Prodigal Daughter

Sara Radle comes home as a Rental

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.

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.

Sara Radle, top left, says the Rentals would play in a parking lot. Or, presumably, a library.
Sara Radle, top left, says the Rentals would play in a parking lot. Or, presumably, a library.

"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."

 
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