The Sadies – Colder Streams

· by Luc Marchessault

Once upon a time, there was a Canadian quartet known as The Sadies, made up of Sean Dean on double bass, Mike Belitsky on drums, and, on various string instruments and vocals, Travis Good and his brother Dallas. The latter passed away, brutally, in February 2022. The creation of Colder Streams had been spread out from 2019 to June 2021 at Barnsky Studios in Montreal and Cimetière de Quyon in the Outaouais (the contribution of the Good parents, i.e. Margaret’s voice and Bruce’s autoharp, was recorded at Woodshed Studio in Blue Rodeo, Toronto).

The sounds of the eleven tracks on Colder Streams are consistent with those created by this ensemble, over a quarter century of career, and some fifteen albums by The Sadies themselves or with others. They may have collaborated with John Doe, Neko Case, Andre Williams, Jon Langford, or Gordon Downie, but their signature remained totally intact. This immutability resides in the intertwining of the Good brothers’ guitars and voices, in the rhythmic bass-drums framework that supports them, as well as in the geographical and immaterial territory that it all evokes.

“Stop and Start” is rooted in the concrete floor stained with motor oil and other fluids of a garage that could be the one around which the drama of Gatsby the Magnificent is articulated. An ageless garage, somewhere in North America. On the chorus of “Message to Belial” is the voice of Richard Reed Parry, the most daring of the musicians who make up Arcade Fire, who made Colder Streams without distorting – and how, exactly, could he do that? – The Sadies. “More Alone” perfectly illustrates, in three minutes and fourteen seconds, the quartet’s modus operandi: tough chords like cowhide, irresistible melody, cymbals vibrating in tune with hearty psychedelia.

On “So Far for So Few” and the country-folk “All the Good” – where a short guitar solo instantly reminds us of Stephen Faulkner’s on La 20 – mother, Margaret Good, backs up her sons’ vocals with her pure, yet almost imperceptible voice. Then, the explosive Jon Spencer performs a gritty solo on “No One’s Listening,” before the short ballad “You Should Be Worried” begins, followed by the neo-cow-punk “Better Yet.” The banjo on “Cut Up High and Dry” takes us to where Canadian and Americana converge. Next comes “Ginger Moon,” the best garage-punk-psych-country-rock’n’roll song you’ve heard in a long time and will hear before long. Mike Dubue of the Hilotrons peppers the grandiose “End Credits” instrumental with mellotron, marxophone, and other finds.

Will the three surviving Sadies make more albums under this moniker in the absence of the irreplaceable Dallas Good? We’ll see. For now, Colder Streams is a powerful thirst-quencher for the musicophile.

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