w/Lizzie West, Gerald Collier
Wed May 7, Tractor Tavern, 8:30 pm, $7.
For all its heartbroken simplicity and earnest sentiment, much of the music that falls under the rough-hewn blanket of alternative country tends to leave some of us a little cold--those who, like me, associate their earliest summers with rodeos and dusty sunsets and long to someday leave the rain-streaked stains of Seattle behind to live out life in a Western cattle town. To us, country means friends gathered around nightfall campfires rather than afternoons spent on expansive front porches, and bad luck runs like blood through generations of certain families, standing as inspiration for an entire town. (I often wonder if the LeBarrs managed to procreate themselves out of the misery three generations of men brought back daily to the same sorry homestead; that they breed at all still serves as a personal warning to question the tragic lure of the big-hearted loser.)
Whether an affinity for this kind of nostalgia is your birthright or just wistful dreaming, the Sadies provide the perfect soundtrack for the lifestyle. The band may hail from Toronto, but their association with Chicago's Bloodshot Records and Steve Albini has brought them quiet notoriety for their eerie, reverb-laden cowboy twang. However, collaboration with Yep Roc Records finds the Sadies hitting a new high point of songwriting shot with foreboding and resonant cinematic touches on Stories Often Told. More than just a sonic testament to shit luck, Stories Often Told showcases Travis and Dallas Good's ability to slather on layers of wobbling guitar and rich harmonies until Americana becomes full-blown psychedelia.
"Oak Ridges" shimmers with a galloping melody as Dallas' lush baritone curses his past; Travis, with his reedier voice on "Within a Stone," penned by Rick White (Eric's Trip), notes heavily that "sometimes we're kinder to strangers than family/who have to see what the repercussions bring." The instrumental "Mile over Mecca" echoes with a churning sadness, and Dallas' duet with his mother on the deeply affecting "A Steep Climb" hits the heart hardest when she sings, "Every day takes years away from me."