Change calls the tune we dance to.


Is there anything as weird as going to a show by yourself? I don’t think so.

Maybe it’s easier if you’re a dude. My colleagues will have voice their thoughts on the matter. I always feel weird doing it. I had plans to attend The Sadies show tonight with a couple of co-workers. Said coworkers jammed, but it ain’t every day you get an opportunity to see a band as awesome as The Sadies in a small, sweaty rock club. When you do get that opportunity, you should take it. Plus, tickets were, like, $15. It’s a deal, it’s a steal, it’s the motherfucking sale of the century. I can’t pass it up. So I’m bravely venturing out alone. Potential serial killers/stalkers be warned: I will gouge your eyes out and I will not fuck around about it, so don’t make me do it.

The first time I was introduced to the Sadies, they were Neko Case’s Boyfriends. I remember picking up 2005’s “Favourite Colours” awhile back and finding its adherence to Canadian spelling rules endearing. And “The Sadies In Concert Vol. 1″ is as perfectly awesome as double live albums get. It’s the kind of thing I want to have in my record collection just so my eventual nieces and nephews will think I am the coolest old lady aunt ever when they come over and go through my junk. When the Sadies play backup to Neko Case singing “Hold On, Hold On,” it’s so effortless and perfect, you barely know they’re there, yet it’s impossible to imagine the song without them. If the Canadian indie-scene were Motown in the ’60s, they’d be the Funk Brothers. Well, they’d be the Good Brothers, but cut me some poetic licence slack here, eh?

I like the latest album, “New Seasons.” It feels a little easier, a little friendlier, a little more approachable and accessible than their previous stuff. A sign of maturation, and yet, they’re not exactly leaving their past behind. You’ll hear in some reviews that they’re leaving the psychedellic urges behind them. You’ll hear they’re re-embracing those same urges. You’ll hear a lot of things. But know this: “New Seasons” is just as tasty as anything that’s come before and could very well hint at what the future holds for this rootsy foursome.  Yes, I like “New Seasons” just fine. But I’d say my favourite Sadies album is “Stories Often Told.” Back in 2002, they were still mining that Ennio Marcone-esque sound. I fell in love with those swaggering spaghetti-Western/surf rock-inspired instrumentals, especially “Monkey & Cork,” a ditty I imagine hearing in the saloon while Al Swearengen took care of business. As a base of operations, you cannot beat a fuckin’ saloon.

And for songs from this new album, you cannot beat “Anna Leigh.” The guitar solo at the halfway point is quick and clean. It cuts right to the heart of what the band is doing and the waltzing pace of the song is just sick. “Yours To Discover” is more modern. The title words are, of course, the very same ones emblazoned on Ontario’s licence plates. I often feel lost and anchorless in this huge province with all its cities so clumped together. So it’s odd that I hear this and think fondly of Saskatchewan. I wish I could drive for an hour without seeing a building or a sign. That’s impossible here, but in the Land of the Living Skies, it’s all too real a possibility. Here I go, getting all sentimental again. I promised myself I wouldn’t cry! Anyway, there are elements of surf, spaghetti and twang on “New Seasons,” but it’s definitely less obvious. I think, if you were to create a modern soundtrack for sprawling, eerie Western-ish films about oil barons, sherriffs, ranchers, outlaws, and coin-tossin’ murderers and Nick Cave was unavailable, you’d hire The Sadies.

They’ve changed from previous releases, and there will be those who don’t like that change. But fuck ‘em. As Al Swearengen says, change ain’t lookin’ for friends. Change calls the tune we dance to.

The Sadies are among the best bands to ever do this sort of thing, and to prove it, “New Seasons” is nominated for a Juno this year in the Roots & Traditional album category. There’s some stiff competition from local guitar hero Kevin Breit, who’s nominated for “In Good We Trust,” an album he recorded with Harry Manx, which you can find on iTunes and Stoney Plain Records. Be sure to check out “Hang On,” a meandering, lazy, wakin’ up and stretchin’ or drifting off into slumber kind of song with plucky steel guitar and a smokey vocal to ease you into wherever it is you’re headed.

The Sadies, meanwhile, will put on an awesome show at Vinyl tonight. They are legendary live and those who would rather watch the Oscars are clearly starved for entertainment. Those of you not lucky enough to live here or near where the band is next gonna be, should check them out on iTunes, MySpace, Bloodshot Records in the U.S., or buy their junk at Maple Music.


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