Album review: The Sadies, “Northern Passages”

by Jon E. Lynch

The Sadies, “Northern Passages”

Available: Friday, Feb. 10, via Yep Roc Records or at your favorite local independent record store on compact disc and on standard black vinyl.

There are just some bands you don’t want deviating too terribly far from what you’ve grown to love about them. Toronto, Ontario, Canada’s The Sadies are very much one of those bands. They have been making records since 1994 and have been doing so in a somewhat consistent and similar style all the while.

Certainly difficult to stylistically pin down, The Sadies (comprised of brothers and singers/guitarists Dallas and Travis Good, bassist Sean Dean and drummer Mike Belitksy) make music that shifts in and out of Americana, country, surf, punk and psych-folk. Really, one can mix and match any of the aforementioned genre identifiers, bending and blending, as the song or moment dictates. Just as soon as that particular musical moment passes they’re on to the next style as they deem fit, sometimes even, impressively, within a single song. For example, side one, track three, “There Are No Words” begins as an echo-heavy distorted rocker before seamlessly shifting tempo to finish a surf-tinged alt-country cut. To established fans of the band, this is of little surprise and part of their appeal.

That doesn’t suggest they are entirely without surprise. Known for a vast, extensive and staggering list of guest contributors, the only track released before the album’s full release was lead single “It’s Easy (Like Walking),” featuring indie rock wunderkind Kurt Vile. Apparently Vile (either with his Violators or perhaps as a former member of The War on Drugs) befriended The Sadies some time ago while touring in a supporting role for the band. Over time and successes, the artists remained friends and when asked to contribute to this track, Vile “… laid down his vocal part in the midst of his own grueling tour schedule.”

“Northern Passages” was recorded during the winter of 2015 by the band at the home of Dallas and Travis’ parents north of Toronto, with Dallas once again handling production duties. The album is, at times, a sonic extension to 2013’s “Internal Sounds.” This makes for a fantastic introduction to new fans, just as it welcomes and warms the old.

Recommended for fans of Calexico, The Gun Club, Dick Dale, The Byrds or The Replacements.

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]


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