Toronto’s Sadies are, without a doubt, one of the best live bands you’ll ever see. They’re snappy dressers, for one, often donning suits for their performances, frontmen Dallas and Travis Good often resembling undertakers in their stretched-out, pasty white frames. And secondly, they keep good company, having recorded and performed with the likes of Neko Case and The Mekons’ Jon Langford. But most importantly, they rock. Evading the shoegaze indie rock of hometown contemporaries Stars and Broken Social Scene, The Sadies play some of the most rip-roaring outlaw country their side of the Mississip’. Melding surf, spaghetti westerns and good old-fashioned country, The Sadies have been wowing audiences for nearly a decade, and if you’ve never had the chance to see them, you’ve been deprived.
Of course, when you listen to their albums, The Sadies are no less impressive. Not only are The Sadies great live musicians, but they write great songs, which is what drives their unstoppable shows. Their newest album, Favourite Colours, is no exception. There’s no shortage of jangly hooks, blazing guitar solos and true Western grit. Yet, Favourite Colours sees the Canadian outlaws veering in more of a Byrdsy direction than before. Second track “Translucent Sparrow” sees the brothers Good channeling Roger McGuinn over a bassline that sounds suspiciously like “Hey Joe.” When the bridge kicks in, the drums start playing in reverse, beneath a Calexico-ish trumpet lead.
The Byrds seem to keep haunting the Good brothers, as heard on the psychedelic “Song of the Chief Musician, Pt. 2” and “Why Be So Curious, Pt. 3.” “1000 Cities Falling, Pt. 1” shows a newly political side to the band as Travis Good condemns war and materialism over a “Ghost Riders in the Sky” sounding tune. And the reverb-heavy “The Iceberg” is one of the dreamiest moments of The Sadies’ career.
In keeping with the tradition of performing with notable vocalists, The Sadies invited Robyn Hitchcock to join them this time around. Hitchcock sings lead on “Why Would Anybody Live Here?”, closing the album with a surfy ballad, much the opposite of how the light-speed “Northumberland West” begins it.
Favourite Colours is another fine chapter in the book of Toronto’s Sadies. Though it’s no drastic leap from 2002’s Stories Often Told, it is a step toward slightly more psychedelic songwriting, while keeping in the tradition of their surf rock and country roots. The album is mighty short, however, clocking in at 34 minutes. But that’s just fine. Anytime you have a spare hour to kill, you can listen to it twice.
The Byrds – Younger Than Yesterday
Calexico – Feast of Wire
Robyn Hitchcock – Globe of Frogs
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.