Fred Savage Fanclub – Jelly Beans with Belly Buttons

Fred Savage Fanclub
Jelly Beans with Belly Buttons

There’s only one member of the Fred Savage Fanclub, at least the band. I’d like to think the former child star has a bigger fanclub than just one, but the band is composed of only Sara Radle, who also plays for the band Lucy Loves Schroeder. As a completely solo project, you might expect acoustic guitars and vocals only, but Radle has layered guitars, drums, multiple vocals, and even more on top of these catchy and fun rock songs.
It may be her voice that makes these songs truly delicious. Radle has a voice that matches with Juliana Hatfield, Tanya Donnelly, Jen Trynin, and others in the more rock vein of independent music. Her vocals and playful, pop sensibility lends these 11 songs a kind of sheer enjoyment. Whether she’s rocking out or going for a more quiet pop moment, each of these songs is catchy and tied together by layers of vocals and backing vocals with that fantastic voice.
It’s surprising how much Fred Savage Fanclub is capable of rocking out. “Whole New Person to Be” is a rocking yet playful track, with tons of backing “waa-waaa” and “ooo-ooo”s. And “Just Call Me Blondie” features some aggressive rock riffs that remind me of the less in-your-face L7. “Try Me” is more poppy, with catchy melodies and rhythms and a sort of bouncy style, and “Sleep it Off” has more garage-rock style guitars with vocals that remind me of Suddenly Tammy! “Curve Ball” has hints of an older Throwing Muses style of rock, the vocals more rock-style than poppy and pretty, and the chuggy, grunge-like guitar riffs on “Run for Cover” evoke hints of Hole.
But Radle also knows how to write a softer, more sincere pop song. “Insane,” which features Radle’s lovely vocals to a piano and even subtle string accompaniment, is quite pretty and starkly honest. And several of the songs are more acoustic guitars and hand-claps, like the undoubtedly catchy “Celebrity” and “Brighter,” which features stark elecric guitar and vocals that have a Liz Phair quality here, making the song plain and powerful in its simplicity. Some keyboards add a more pop quality to the acoustic “Seven Days,” which features the great line, “you’d say that I’m a freak to fall in love in just a week.” The hand-claps add a nice beat to the quieter, again Liz Phair-like “Be Good.”
I really like these songs, simply for the sheer pop/rock quality. These songs are crisp and catchy, and you’ll be doubting that one musician does it all. But while Fred Savage Fanclub may have trouble playing live shows without some supporting musicians, Radle proves that she’s a talented and versatile singer/songwriter, both in her softer, poppier songs and her sheer rock moments. Great stuff from someone you’re bound to be hearing a lot from in the future.