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Toronto’s Sadies may be more famous as a backing band than as a band in their own right, but they are a hell of a band — equally at home playing alt-country, ’60s garage psychedelia, spaghetti-western instrumentals, folk-rock, or mixtures of all the above. They have served as the backing band for Neko Case (on her album The Tigers Have Spoken — in fact, Case had worked as a backup singer for the Sadies before she made a name for herself as a solo act) and R&B veteran Andre Williams and recorded with punk idols John Doe and Jon Langford and psychedelic pop hero Robyn Hitchcock. Because of their backup roles, the Sadies often get compared to another bunch of Canadians, the Band. (That is, when they aren’t being compared to the Byrds.) And, like the Band, when the Sadies aren’t playing behind a star, they sound just as good.

In the Sadies’ early days, they seemingly preferred to play instrumentals, but brothers Travis and Dallas Good have developed voices with almost as much strength and character as their guitar chops. After last year’s excellent, nostalgic honky-tonk album Country Club with John Doe, the Sadies’ new album, Darker Circles, finds them playing something that draws on tradition without sounding self-consciously retro — or, at least, not overly so. Echoing, U2-like guitars chime into the middle of Byrds-style jangle and surf-guitar chords bend in a waltz-time ballad, a ’60s dance beat bounces along beneath what sounds like an 18th-century folk ballad. It’s all quite lovely until you realize that the Good brothers are singing about lives in ruin and pennies on eyes.

Past Event

The Sadies and the Loons

  • Friday, June 11, 2010, 8:30 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • $10 - $12
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