Release Date: Oct 1, 2013
Record label: Yep Roc
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Alternative Country-Rock
Some have called them the world's greatest rock'n'roll band and the Sadies continue to live up to the hype with Internal Sounds, another instance where a new album one-ups the previous one in their catalogue. While the group often hire external producers like Greg Keelor and Gary Louris, this record marks the first one overseen by the Sadies' Dallas Good. As such, Internal Sounds possesses the most tension between their noise-punk origins ("The Very Beginning," "STORY 19," a tribute to Ronnie Splinter and his band the Outsiders) and the intangible aspect that makes them such an inclusive hit at folk festivals ("Another Yesterday Again," "Leave This World Behind").
At their best, the Sadies have always sounded like the missing link between the 13th Floor Elevators and the Byrds, and it only takes about ten seconds into "The First Five Minutes," the leadoff track from the ballsy, broken, and blisteringly solid Internal Sounds, to back that notion up. The first "official" Sadies album since 2010's equally terrific Darker Circles (the band released three collaborations in between, one with punk-blues legend Andre Williams [Night and Day], one with X-man John Doe [Country Club], and one with familial Canadian bluegrass outfit the Good Brothers [The Good Family Album]; it's also the first Sadies long-player to be produced solely by singer/guitarist Dallas Good -- longtime producer/collaborator Gary Louris [the Jayhawks] gets credit for "vocals coached" and "fortunes read"). Internal Sounds both solidifies and expands on the veteran group's signature tone, beefing up the punk-infused, psych-rock twang without losing any of the technical mastery and subtle nuances of the playing, especially on big, standout cuts like "Another Tomorrow Again," the aforementioned opener, and the stunning Smithereens-meet-Kinks rocker "Very Beginning," the latter of which offers up a hundred reasons why Neko Case and others hold the group in such high regard and so often look to them for help on the stage and in the studio.
Part of the Sadies' charm lies in the fact that whomever they collaborate with, they always sound like the Sadies. Somehow, though, on this self-produced album, they're more Sadies-like than ever. Songs feel like they might have been recorded any time since the band formed nearly two decades ago: the record kicks off boldly with the jangly psychedelic garage rock of The First 5 Minutes, and there are nods to noisy college rock intermixed with Byrdsy alt-country throughout.
The Sadies have been their own band, seemingly everyone else’s band, and an almost limitlessly flexible band. They’ve been at their best when seamlessly blending genres, but they’ve been a treat when playing in more focused styles, such as on the tossed off Tales of the Rat Fink. Otherwise, the band has blended country, folk, rock, surf, garage, rockabilly, psychedelia, punk, and pretty much anything else they could grab for their distinctive sound.
"We are the blessing and the curse," head Sadie Dallas Good sings on "The Very Beginning," but most of this band's 16(!)-album output has been a blessing. The Sadies have, with less fanfare than they deserve, been one of the most surefire alt-country acts for nearly 20 years, collaborating with Neko Case, Jon Langford and Andre Williams. Recorded over the course of a year and sounding more worked over than previous albums, Internal Sounds is full of endings and beginnings, with cinematic instrumental act breaks, twangy fist- pumpers ("The First 5 Minutes"), muscular power pop ("Another Tomorrow Again") and haunting drones (the excellent closer, "We Are Circling").