New York Music Daily

Love's the Only Engine of Survival

Tag: americana music

Outside-the-Box Americana Tunesmithing and Sizzling Chops with Demolition String Band in Williamsburg Tomorrow Night

What’s the likelihood that a band whose popularity peaked two decades ago would be the best in their field in New York in 2023?

Say what you want about attrition in the wake of the 2020-21 lockdowns, and the implosion of the Americana scene here, but Demolition String Band have put down deep roots and have survived to the point where they’re the creme de la creme of New York country bands. And they’re a lot more than country: they play both electric and acoustic shows and are as likely to romp through a bluegrass tune as they are to channel X during their mid-80s country phase, or blast through a punkgrass version of a Madonna hit (which the Material Girl vociferously endorsed). They’re bringing their mix of sizzling fretwork and fetching vocal harmonies to Skinny Dennis tomorrow night, Jan 21 at 9 PM. If you reallly want to make a day out of it, another eclectic and individualistic guitarist, Felix Slim plays his mix of ragtime and Romany-influenced sounds there starting at 4 PM.

In the years since their early-zeros heyday, co-leaders Boo Reiners and Elena Skye have sharpened their chops even further. If memory serves right, he played guitar on a Klezmatics record, and also with unpredictable jazz group Swingadelic. Skye’s main axe is the mandolin, but she also plays acoustic and baritone guitar.

A look back at what they were doing back in the day before Dick Cheney’s notorious PREP act changed the world reflects how much fun they still have mashing up country and country-adjacent styles. On March 25, 2001, they opened for punkgrass band Split Lip Rayfield at the Mercury. That night, the highlight of the set was an ominously loping spaghetti western instrumental that gave Skye a launching pad to flex on the baritone.

Then a few blocks north at the C-Note, almost a month to the day later, they opened a killer triplebill with gothic grasscore band Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and then an excellent Bakersfield-style guitarist and crooner, Buddy Woodward & Nitro Express, headlining. One of the most memorable songs of that sold-out evening was a poignant version of his signature ballad, Lost in Austin, but another that was just as good was Demolition String Band’s raw, venomous cover of the Mary Lee Kortes hit Give It to the Needy. The original is deceptively blithe and sarcastic; Skye’s vocals that night brought out every drop of vengeful undercurrent.

Yet the most memorable show they played that year might have been an acoustic gig by Skye and Reiners two days after 9/11 at Sidewalk, a dumpy little brunch spot where a lot of New York bands would play their first gig and then move on. That night, smoke was still billowing from Ground Zero – it was impossible to get past the corner of Fulton and Broadway, where the ash was knee deep. On the walk up deserted streets to Avenue A, there were flyers taped to lampposts by relatives desperate to find loved ones who’d worked in the Twin Towers.

In the makeshift back room at the restaurant, a small, subdued crowd were treated to quiet and harrowing sets by Kortes, Jenifer Jackson, and then the Demolition String Band brain trust. It was surreal to hear them playing stark, rustic acoustic versions of big Rodeo Bar crowd-pleasers like the swaying Garden of Love and that goofy Madonna cover, with Bob Packwood adding erudite Nashville atmosphere on piano. Then again, it was a surreal time to be in New York. At the end of the show, they invited Kortes up to provide some electric harmonies on a George Jones tune.

And at this even more surreal historical moment, Demolition String Band are still here to remind us that we can transcend even times like these.

Advertisement

New York Americana Cult Heroes Make a Return to Midtown, Undiminished

“All the kindest of hearts you always had on display,” Sloe Guns frontman Eric Alter sings, completely deadpan, hitting a jangly peak on his Telecaster. Then lead player Mick Izzo slinks into a subtle, blue-flame slide riff on his Les Paul. “Every night I get down on my knees and pray you’re not my guardian angel.”

The Sloe Guns released that genuine classic, which you can download for free at their music page, in 2001. As revenge anthems go, it’s one of the subtlest and most venomous ever. What’s the likelihood that the band would still be together, more than twenty years and a lockdown later, and playing Connolly’s on 46th St. this Jan 13 at 10 PM?

In the two decades since they started, Alter, Izzo and a series of competent bassists and drummers never quit. The venues may have shifted from dive bars to public parks, but there hasn’t been a year that the monthly live music calendar here hasn’t listed a Sloe Guns show. They got their start picking up the tail end of the “alt country” era of Wilco and Son Volt, then took a turn into more jamband-oriented southern rock before returning to their sharply lyrical Steve Earle-style roots.

Back in 2001, the Sloe Guns were a hot ticket on the New York Americana circuit (yup, there was such a thing). That’s why it felt weird to see them play to a sparse crowd on July 16th of that year at Tobacco Road, a new spot which had taken over the sketchy Sapphire Lounge jazz club space around the corner from Port Authority. For that matter, it was weird to be able to come down from a stoner rooftop party a few blocks north to see a band who seldom ventured north of 14th Street. The show was tight; the highlight was a surprising, offhandedly brief version of their signature murder ballad, Dillon.

The Sloe Guns also hold a place in history as being the last show this blog’s owner saw before 9/11 (as Katherine Watt has documented, that date fatefully changed how American sovereignty would become null and void). On September 10, 2001, they took the stage at Brownies, the 169 Avenue A space that would become the Hi-Fi and then a series of cheesy tourist traps, That night, Alter and Izzo worked more of a warm southern jamband sound. Did they know on a subconscious level how much the hope implied in the epic Wildflowers and the wistful, loping Coming Home would be decimated after the neocons in the Bush 2 cabinet took power?

So it was validating to see the band play Tompkins Square Park about fifteen years later. Alter’s masterfully picked Fender guitar intensity and Izzo’s offhandedly sizzling lead lines were a throwback to a better time and place, through a setlist that in many ways mirrored what they played that fateful night at Brownies. Little did we know how much the world would change since then. Catch the band at a refreshingly laid-back Irish bar if you want to teleport back to a more optimistic point in New York music history.

Long Overdue New Retrospectives From an Americana Cult Heroine

A half century before the Brooklyn Americana scene exploded onto a national stage, Mimi Roman was representing for the borough. Now in her eighties, she remains a beloved figure in the vintage country music demimonde. The scion of a Brooklyn Jewish pickle empire, she was an outdoorsy girl who grew up riding horses and became enamored with all things western, including country music. By the time she’d graduated college, she’d become an accomplished guitarist and a hell of a singer, won a big talent contest and went on to regional stardom in the emerging medium of tv.

Overcompressed digitized versions of her singles have been circulating on the web for years. But there’s never been a complete Mimi Roman album until this year, when Sundazed Music released the vinyl compilation The First of the Brooklyn Cowgirls, streaming at Bandcamp. The record begins with rare tv audio from 1954. It ends with a series of rare, low-key, often gorgeously nocturnal, mostly acoustic demos from late in the decade.

In general, the digitzation is very good, considering that much of the source material is wobbly old radio and tv clips and worn crate-digger vinyl. Many of these 35 tracks clock in at under two minutes. In the Nashville style of the era for female singers, Roman’s strong, expressive vocals are typically way out front, music in the back. These songs trace from the early 50s era of small groups with acoustic and electric guitar and fiddle or pedal steel, to a full-band rockabilly sound. Likewise, it’s a trip to hear Roman grow from a demure girl with an outer-borough accent to a polished, sophisticated frontwoman (check out her elegant jazz-inflected phrasing on the cover of Route 66 here).

The musicianship is often tremendous: there’s a mind-melting cyclotron pedal steel break in Bill Monroe’s Rocky Road Blues, purist honkytonk piano in places and lots of inspired fiddle and guitar picking.

The live material comes first. There are two versions of Weary Blues From Waitin’, an early theme for Roman which has a suspicious resemblance to a Hank Williams classic. The hazy, opiated cover of Folsom Prison Blues is chillingly brilliant. With its surprisingly risque lyrics, He’s My Marathon Man foreshadows some of her later material. And There’s No Holdin’ You is a tantalizing look at what Roman could do with a Memphis soul-tinged tune.

Wait, there’s more. Roman’s alter ego was Kitty Ford, whose much harder-rocking and often utterly bizarre 1961 album Pussycat has also been reissued on vinyl and is streaming at Bandcamp. The band – which includes piano, roller-rink organ, bass, electric guitars and occasional horns – scrambles and pounces, fueled by an uncredited, inspired extrovert drummer.

The title track is a proto Pink Panther theme. Things get seriously surreal in the faux-Middle Eastern Harry’s Harem. F.K.A. Roman gamely tackles proto-go-go soul, hi-de-ho Vegas balladry, campy proto Hairspray teen pop and bossa nova, with varying results. There’s also a faux French dixieland theme, a suspect stab at calypso and a regrettable phony cha-cha.

Wry, Picturesque, Smartly Crafted Americana From Aaron Raitiere

He’s got a hammock hung up between a sweetgum and a piece of PVC
He’s a hot dog griller and a cold beer killer and he fights for guns and peace…
He pays cash and respects to Merle
He’s a single wide dreamer in a double wide world

If those lines grab you, you’ll appreciate Aaron Raitiere‘s debut album Single Wide Dreamer, streaming at Spotify. That’s the title track, which opens the record, the band rising from a simple fingerpicked guitar line to a chugging Americana rock groove with tremolo organ.

Raitiere is an interesting story: middle-aged corporate-adjacent tunesmith whose road warrior friends shepherded the record into existence. He’s got a great eye for detail and an aphoristic sense of humor that looks back to classic 50s and 60s Nashville.

“The old man behind the bar’s clearly gone too far, everybody’s cool with that,” he muses in the second tune, Everybody Else, “I won’t be lonely when I go to hell, you can find me with everybody else.”

For the Birds, a co-write with Miranda Lambert, is a clever litany of things worth supporting, set to what’s basically a remake of Mama Tried..with lead bass. Just a guess there was a party going on the studio when these songs were immortalized.

Cold Soup is an update on the wry cosmic country that Jimmy Buffett was writing in the early 70s. At Least We Didn’t Have Any Kids is more of a rock song: it’s less a dis than a tribute to “redneck white and blue.”

Dear Darlin’ is a useful addition to the vast repertoire of “darlin'” songs and a considerably more cynical take on the low-key side of John Prine – the jokes are too spot-on to give away.

Your Daddy Hates Me is built around a good Lou Reed joke. Raitiere goes back to John Prine detail in the otherwise carefree front-porch singalong Worst I Ever Had and then in the swaying, optimistic Can’t Rain All the Time, which has a caffeinated Robert Randolph pedal steel solo.

After all the jokes, Tell Me Something True comes as quite the surprise, testament to how the smallest details are so often the biggest tells. Raitiere goes into raucous Roger Miller rockabilly territory in You’re Crazy: “You’re a few bricks short of a house,” he explains.

He closes the album with Time Will Fly, a scrambling reflection on the passing of the seasons, spiced with nimble fingerpicking, spare piano and organ. This guy ought to stop writing ditties for corporate moppets and focus on what could be a hell of a career for himself.

Gorgeous, Purist Rock Tunesmithing and an East Village Gig From the Bastards of Fine Arts

Rock supergroups in New York are in short supply right now, but the Bastards of Fine Arts are at the top of the list. Guitarists Matt Keating and Steve Mayone are connoisseurs of classic songcraft, from powerpop to Americana to soul. And it’s impossible to think of a more colorful, melodic rhythm section than bassist Jason Mercer and drummer Greg Wieczorek. Keating and Mayone got their start as a duo. After putting out a series of viral videos on a certain social media platform that this blog boycotts, they survived the 2020 lockdown to release their debut album, A Good Sign, streaming at Bandcamp. They’re playing 11th St. Bar on Nov 30 at 8 PM.

They open with Hardest Part, a gorgeous, slowly swaying anthem that would fit in perfectly with the late 90s Jayhawks catalog, right down to the vocal harmonies. The way Mercer winds his way up out of the last chorus is a characteristic, luscious touch.

Track two, Take the Fall, is a punchy Keating take on vintage Lou Reed. The band add strings from violin superstar Claudia Chopek and organ from Keating in Happens All the Time, a tale of abandonment which winds from wry to absolutely vindictive: the ending is way too good to give away.

Mayone moves to banjo for the front porch Americana-tinged waltz Enough to Make You Cry. They stick with 3/4 and Mayone on banjo as they pick up the pace with Any Old Town, a cynical glimpse of rust belt anomie.

Row Away, an elegy, features a glimmering noctural interweave between Keating’s electric piano and Mayone’s sinuous lead work. Then the band kick in harder with the snidely strutting, ragtime-inflected Can’t Get My Head Around It.

They remake an earlier slow song, A Walk in the Park, as briskly chugging mid 70s British pub rock. Hole in One is brooding 60s soul through the prism of Abbey Road Beatles – right down to the watery analog chorus guitar patch, plus some neat tarantella work from Chopek and the rest of the crew..

Comin’ Home, a hushed folk-rock tune, celebrates a return from California to a now-vanished New York: these days it’s six of one, half a dozen of another. What a beautiful time it was when a song like this made you feel at home.

Keating takes over on gospel piano in You on My Arm. Next up, the band blend punchy Keith Richards riffage into a big Jayhawks-style anthem in the album’s title track.

Keating slows down for Kids, a wryly amusing look at trans-generational angst (incidentally, he is very good at the generational stuff: his daughter Greta is a similarly sharp, melodic multi-instrumentlist and songwriter). The group close the record on a benedictory note with a wee hours saloon blues tune of sorts, Lucky Stars.

Every Day Is Halloween Now: Singles For Pre-Election Week

Halloween is over but the mood persists. Today’s page is about half an hour of snarky memes left over like extra candy corn, plus a couple of short, powerful videos, plus some good tunes. As usual, click on artist or author names for the webpages, click on titles for audio, video or just a laugh at some authoritarian’s expense.

The big news today is that the New York Police Department has joined Ring Neighbors, the citizen surveillance network built around Amazon’s Ring spycams. Add facial recognition technology to that and we are in trouble. Hoodies and shades aren’t just for celebs now.

In terms of sheer craft, Mark Oshinskie is one of the best writers on the web. He has a novelist’s eye for detail and a Kafkaesque sense of irony. He’s also a painter. Here’s what could be the best Halloween lawn decoration of the year.

Check out the Paul Pelosi and Justin Bieber Halloween costume memes via 2SG on Substack, too funny

Doug Brignole was a bodybuilder. He told people to take the Covid shot. He challenged everyone who was saying that it was dangerous to prove him wrong. If it killed him, we’d be right.

Well, it killed him. Here’s Texas Lindsay‘s 3 minute 59 second video with Dr. Peter McCullough. If there’s a sudden unexplained death, we have to assume that it’s the shot, “Until proven otherwise.”

Next, in two minutes, here’s Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi on how all vaccines are being pivoted to a deadly mRNA genetic engineering platform. The takeaway: the focus has been on the spike protein in the Covid shot, but the mechanism of how mRNA shots reengineer your DNA is far more deadly.

Emerald Robinson asks, with some ridiculously funny memes, “Will America rid itself of the Biden regime before the Biden regime rids the world of America?

Liz Truss’ reign as UK PM may be destined for Trivial Pursuit footnote-dom, but we have PTE Geopolitics’ pricelessly funny rap pastiche as a memory.

Democrat Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig tells the camera that “I will never stop standing up for Big Pharma and standing against my constituents!” Thanks to Jeff Childers of C&C News for this.

Now some tunes:

Death Valley Girls have a new album due out in about a month and a new single, What Are the Odds. “We are living in a simulation world and we are simulated girls:” Blondie X the Cramps X early Madonna.

Alexandra John‘s Lock Me Down is basically the Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony with a woman on the mic. And it gives you pause: could this be a propaganda piece, or just satire? “Maybe it’s time you locked me down…better watch out for the smoking gun.”

Caitlin Rose‘s Getting It Right, with Courtney Marie Andrews on bvox is front-porch folk reinvented as hazy backbeat quasi-Americana.

Mary Middlefield‘s Band Aid takes the pensive drifting atmosphere into more spare terrain.

We get quieter with Fiona Brice‘s Henryk Gorecki-esque art-rockscape, Nocturnal 

Let’s close out the evening with Follow the Cyborg, by Miss Grit, a hypnotic motorik theme with an intriguingly dystopic video

Big Halloween Finale, 2022: A Mighty History Book, For Free and More

The last batch of singles here was supposed to be the final Halloween dump, but things are unfolding so fast around the world that today requires another, A free magnum opus, outrageously funny memes and some tunes too. As always, click on artist or author names for their webpages, click on titles for audio, visuals, a quick read and probably a laugh.

Jason Powers is one of the hardest-working investigative journalists on the web. He did a killer piece on Renee Wegrzyn, the recently appointed US genetic engineering tsar, complete with receipts and Hunter Biden connection. Just for today, he’s put the new fifth edition of his book Operation Virus up at his Substack as a free download. It turns into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight, October 31.

This working history of the plandemic and its origins is long, meticulously linked and has as many footnotes as Bobby Kennedy’s The Real Anthony Fauci. Powers is quick to remind that it’s as much a guide to where the gaps are as it is to what we actually know. Where Sage Hana is the avenging angel of the freedom movement, Tessa Lena is our soul guide philosopher and Mark Crispin Miller is the erudite, polymath department chair, Powers is a dogged, tireless, quintessentially down-to-earth Indiana sleuth. Grab this book now and sink your teeth into it: it’s many days of reading. Then find your own rabbit hole and do your own research and reporting.

MCM has great taste in music and since 2020 has been a prime source of protest songs. Here’s his latest playlist. Highlights: Safe and Free, Jude Roberts’ deadpan, Appalachian-tinged chronicle of how the plandemic destroyed independent businesses, and Safe and Effective, Chris Porro‘s snarky honkytonk tune. Stick around for the surprise ending!

Have you seen the ThinkTwice Team‘s memes? The first batch are spot-on parodies of lockdowner propaganda posters: muzzles, idiot circles, antisocial distancing, the works. There’s one for every divide-and-conquer scheme. If these last 31 months have been hard on you, this will leave you with a redemptive smirk.

Song lyric puzzle: this is Doo Wah Diddy, via El Gato Malo for more laughs:

The Juice Media in Australia have been having a sublimely amusing time with global politics. Here’s Zoe Amanda Wilson and Lucy calling bullshit on the Oz/US nuke submarine deal (thanks to Sage for finding that one).

Meme maven Anne Gibbons on the Hochul concentration camp regulation, its initial defeat and possible resurrection.

St. Petersburg, Florida whistleblower OB/GYN doctor Kimberly Biss drops a truth bomb: miscarriages up 50%, infertility up 50%, cervical cancer up 25% since the lethal Covid injection rollout.

Broken Peach just recorded The Night of the Halloween Specials, a live 23-minute medley: quirkily creepy punk rock versions of Tainted Love, Personal Jesus, I Put a Spell on You, Don’t You Want Me Baby and originals with impeccably choreographed four-part harmonies.

Let’s end this with Funkrust Brass Band playing an inspiring live take of theit latest single, Ignition. Set the night onfire!

Halloween Month Singles, Vol. 1

Today is a big dump of really creepy stuff, but plenty of ridiculously funny video and some calmer, organically-rooted sounds to balance things out. Some songs, some visuals, a macabre video skit and a few short reads, a long album’s worth of entertainment. Click on artist or author names for their webpages, click on titles for audio, video or a quick read.

Soon-to-be-expat New Yorker Daisy Moses offers her usual spot-on, hilarious take on Lizzo using her expert lips and tongue on James Madison’s 200-year-old crystal flute. Too funny: 2-minute read with videos

Investigative journalist Joel Smalley discovers that he’s somehow received not just one but two Covid shots! The UK National Health system says he did but can’t explain how. Too funny. 28-second silent video

The Halloween video of the week comes to us via Mark Crispin Miller‘s weekly chronicle of the casualties of Operation Herod. Is it deadly to be in close contact with Charles In Charge? Scroll down to the third video,

Here’s ex-BlackRock hedge fund analyst Ed Dowd – the first to blow the whistle on the lethal Covid injection’s effect on all-cause mortality – on the Jerm Warfare podcast, via Sage Hana. This is one of her savagely spot-on videos, with a surprise ending

Here’s another funny one: Prof. Freedom’s Covid Religion video – a free download at Unbekoming (scroll down about 3/4 down the page). Plus a bonus chapter from Dr. Mark McDonald’s future classic 2020 broadside, United States of Fear.

Investigative journalist Etana Hecht suggests to a script-reading CDC contractor phone operator that she might want to turn whistleblower. The good stuff, with some VERY pregnant pauses, starts at about 6:50 in the audio of the phone call: scroll to the bottom of the page.

World Economic Forum infiltraitor Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand gets caught snorting blow on camera, thanks to Wittgenstein on Twitter via 2SG on Substack

Turfseer, the king of artsy protest anthems, has a not-so-secret second life as film composer and dramatist. Here’s his cruelly funny, cynical Twilight Zone parody, – Nightmare at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Will the rebel army make it to the underground bunkers where President Fauci is hiding out with Zuck and Gates? And whose side is that mysterious BLM protestor really on? There’s a surprise ending to this 21-minute video with a good original score

Reliably wide-ranging, inspiring freedom fighter, author and podcaster Bretigne Shaffer gives us a free pdf of her metaphorically savage short story Elixir of Fear.

Need a break from this relentless darkness? Crank up pianist/singer Maria Mendes‘ lavish, symphonic new big band jazz single Hermeto’s Fado for Maria, by the iconic Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal. That goofy synth break midway through will crack you up

The MammalsIf You Could Hear Me Now is a front-porch protest song for our time. “The money’s in charge of the black coal barge and there’s no more fish to be fishing.” Thanks to investigative journalism legend Celia Farber for passing this along.

Jude Roberts sings his elegantly snarling ragtime-flavored protest song Fall On Your Sword, Dr. Fauci, “the world’s biggest industry whore” who puts his greedy fingers into every fucking pie.

Americana songstress Monica Taylor delivers Rescues, a down-home red dirt Oklahoma shuffle with banjo and dobro,

Let’s wind this up with a shot of raw adrenaline: Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones ripping their way through their ghoulabilly hit I Drink to Your Health, with a searing Eddie Rion guitar solo

Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones Bring Their Irreverent Retro Rock to the East Village

Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones are connoisseurs of retro Americana sounds, from rockabilly to 60s soul music. They’re playing Otto’s on Sept 24 at 10 PM; for those who might say, “Eww, the East Village on a Saturday night,” keep in mind that so many of the touristy types who made the neighborhood a place to avoid on the weekend have left town.

Out of all the albums Hope and the band have put out over the years, the very best of them all might be their snarky, irreverent Songs in the Key of Quarantine, streaming at Bandcamp. The core of the band, singer/guitarist Hope and her bassist husband Matthew Goldpaugh put this spot-on, satirical ep out during the darkest months of 2020 with a little help from their bandmates.

The first track is Social Distancing Blues:

Can’t give no one a hug
Can’t hold my baby tight
You got to wear a hazmat suit to get into a fight

And it gets better from there.

Bad Time to Quit Drinking is a grimly funny tune: the gist of it is that there are other things you can do to get high. No Time to Get Bored is a shuffle where Lara chronicles all the goofy things you can do when you’re been put under house arrest by a totalitarian regime.

She shows off some snarling gutter blues guitar chops on You Are Essential, a duet with her husband where they send a grateful shout out to the retail and healthcare workers who kept the economy going when many of the rest of us were depersoned during the endless, bleak days of 2020.

She drops her guard for the sad, spare, plainspoken acoustic soul ballad When Will I See My Grandma Again? Then she picks up the pace with Go Big & Stay Home, a scruffy number which seems a lot more cynical than optimistic. The last song on the album is a cover and it’s not very good – and it’s by a corporate rock guy with blood on his hands. He made his drummer take the lethal Covid injection early during the band’s 2021 tour, and the drummer died after one of the first shows.

The band’s latest album is Here to Tell The Tale, a full-band record also up at Bandcamp, which came out last year. Lead guitarist Eddie Rion and drummer Jeremy Boniello scramble through a catchy, diverse mix that starts with a simmering ghoulabilly tune, then dips into smoky go-go sounds, vintage Loretta Lynn style C&W and jump blues.

The last time this blog was in the house at one of the band’s shows, it was in 2018 at an Amsterdam Avenue bar which had neither stage nor PA system. Running everything through their amps, the band managed to keep a noisy neighborhood crowd at this onetime dive under control, no small achievement.

Northern Noir Band the Sadies Leave Us With What Could Be The Best Album of 2022

Guitarist Dallas Good said that his band the Sadies‘ new album Colder Streams was the best record they’d ever made. They began recording it in 2019. Good and his bandmates had to sneak across provincial borders during the tyrannical Canadian lockdown to finally finish it in the summer of 2021. Too bad he didn’t live to see it. The lethal Covid injection killed him at 49 this past February.

The Sadies put out a ton of good albums, both under their own name as well as backing Neko Case. They started out in Americana, somewhere between Nashville gothic and punkgrass and by the time they wrapped up this one – streaming at Bandcamp – they’d gone in a more electric, psychedelic direction. Dallas Good was right: this is the Sadies best record. More than that, it’s a potent, metaphorically chilling historical document and arguably the best rock album of 2022.

The opening track, Stop and Start perfectly capsulizes the band’s sound in their final days: dense, reverb-drenched layers of jangle, clang, swirl and occasional scream from the Good brothers’ guitars over the precise, swinging groove of bassist Sean Dean and drummer Mike Belitsky. It may or may not be a lockdown parable – either way, it offers guarded hope for a new future:

The sickness comes like a rising sun
Now your war is done, what have you become?
Are you too far down to stop right now?
You can start right now
Stop and start right now

Is it a surprise that the next track – released as a single this past winter – would be titled Message to Belial? “The dark of all ages has come,” the band harmonize somberly over a spiky thicket of reverb guitar.in this parable of a less than sympathetic devil.

Dallas Good’s lingering, twangy lines resonate over his brother Travis’ layers of distantly Beatlesque acoustic rhythm in More Alone, an increasingly angst-fueled elegy for both people and places gone forever:

In this day and age
Rage has become all the rage
We choose to behave
Like wolves left to starve in a cage
We keep going in circles around around
Spinning faster and faster and faster
Go round in the end and then start back down again
Looking forward to another disaster

So Far For So Few is a bouncy mashup of bluegrass and Flamin’ Groovies janglerock, growing more psychedelic and enveloping on the wings of Dallas’ soaring lead lines.

Fueled by stark banjo and some intricate guitar flatpicking, All the Good – with the brothers’ mom and dad Margaret and Bruce Good on harmony vocals and autoharp, respectively – is a throwback to the band’s more acoustic late 90s sound.

Jon Spencer guests on fuzz guitar on No One’s Listening, a scorching update on ominous 60s Laurel Canyon psych-folk: “What you don’t know can’t hurt you anymore,” is the crushingly ironic key to the song. You Should Be Worried, a gorgeously resonant open-tuned front-porch folk tune, has even darker foreshadowing: “I’m not worried about you, you should be worried about me,” the band harmonize.

They go back to scampering reverb-plated garage-psych rock in Better Yet, with a tantalizingly blistering acoustic/electric guitar duel. Then they turbocharge the Nashville gothic with silvery sheets of reverb guitar in Cut Up High and Dry before taking a brief, surreal detour into dub.

They keep the scampering drive going through Ginger Moon, with what’s arguably Dallas’ most savage solo here. In an eerie stroke of fate, the final cut is titled End Credits, an intricately layered, Morricone-esque southwestern gothic instrumental. How tragic to see such a great band go out at the top of their game.