The Sadies - New Seasons (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Sadies

New Seasons (2007)

Yep Roc

I'm feeling confident, so let's going ahead and make the argument that the Sadies are essential listening for the punk rock crowd. Now this is by no means an under-appreciated band; they find no shortage of critical praise with each successive record (and there's been something like ten at this point). Yet coming as we are from the punk perspective, they are a group we hear mentioned far less than they should be. This is a four-piece that's remarkably adept at a handful of styles that punk fans (and musicians) tend to gravitate towards once age and restlessness take hold. If you're spinning whiskey-soaked roots acts like Lucero, caught up in the dark southern tales of Murder by Death, tripping on the low-fi freakout that is the Black Lips or simply digging more Anti- than Epitaph, there's something in the Sadies' repertoire that'll grab you.

The Sadies have always been masters of genre blending, bopping between alt-country, psychedelic garage, `60s surf rock, spaghetti western storytelling and Canuck indie folk -- often over a handful of songs. This record solidifies their stylistic adventures, boiling everything down to a level of focus that the band may have missed in the past. After 2006's absolutely epic double live album, it's satisfying to see the band bottle up all that raucous energy and take a cool introspective turn. Jayhawks principle Gary Louris is on board producing the effort and he keeps everything on the rails.

A brief bluegrass instrumental leads the band into the feedback-heavy (and clumsily named) "The First Inquisition Pt. IV." The track recalls the Sadies' early days in the garage, and is really quite comparable to something you'd hear from the Black Lips' when they dial down the weirdness. "What's Left Behind" carries forward the sound from the Favourite Colours full-length, tracking Byrds-styled harmonies over some absolutely stellar guitar work. Down-tempo tunes like "Sunset to Dawn" never seem to overstay, and no song on the record ever even flirts with the four-minute mark (with most not even breaking the magic two and a half). The ballad quickly gives way to the dreamy road song "Yours to Discover," and on yet again to the propulsive storyteller "Anna Leigh." Perhaps the Sadies' most uncelebrated skill, often overshadowed by the guitar wizardry of the brothers Good, is their masterful command of mood. There's vast emotional ground covered between the sinister urgency of "The Trial," the wise and weary "My Heart of Wood" and the rather sweet "Never Again."

New Seasons is a concise record by a band that could have too easily have written a sprawling monster of a full-length. Yet with the depth of their catalog there's no shame in a little restraint. The Sadies may be uncomfortably labeled as a roots rock or alt-country band, but they write with a sense of brevity and directness that should appease the punk attention span. This is a band that deserves their praise, and one that it's never too late to get on board with.