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THE SADIES:: New Seasons (Album Review)

Neko Case’s favorite Canadian band may wear the alt-country tag, but the Toronto twangers have never been standard-issue honky-tonkers, having also collaborated with Jon Langford, Andre Williams and others. The Sadies’ sound owes as much to surf and psychedelia as to country and bluegrass, and you can trace a direct line from them back through the sunbaked choogle of the Meat Puppets to the cosmic cowboy twang of Quicksilver Messenger Service and Clarence White-era Byrds. All those influences crop up on New Seasons. The eerie psych-garage of “A Simple Apparition” would fool Lenny Kaye in a Nuggets blindfold test, while classic country instrumentals get their due in “Wolf Tones,” which channels the theme music for an imaginary pioneers-and-wagon-trains Western. The Meat Puppets vibe is prominent in “What’s Left Behind,” featuring virtuoso picking and woozy, overlapping vocals from brothers Dallas and Travis Good. And in the rippling, echoey guitars and insistent rhythmic chug of “Ann Leigh,” a tragic tale of a young man being chased by his woman’s premonition, the Sadies craft a sonic and narrative masterpiece destined to be covered by many artists (my bet’s on Case). As produced by Gary Louris (Jayhawks/Golden Smog), New Seasons is a reverb-drenched, genre-hopping gem, the culmination of a 10-year, eight-album journey that promises to bear even more riches farther down the road.
—Fred Mills