The Sadies

Stories Often Told

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With each album, the Sadies keep pushing a little more at the boundaries of their sound. This time there are two tracks that nudge gently at the barriers -- "Mile Over Mecca," which brings in horns over the whammy-bar guitar for a slightly chaotic but satisfying instrumental, and "Of Our Land," a time-warp trip through '60s psychedelia that starts out like "As Tears Go By" before transmuting into "Incense and Peppermints" on some serious drugs (and heavy phasing). It's to the band's credit that neither of the pieces seems out of place, or simply there for novelty effect. But Canada's alt-country kings have become masters of casting their net wide. There are still the surfing instrumentals like "Lay Down Your Arms" and "A No. 1," where the influence of their Toronto colleagues, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, is quite apparent. And then there are the songs, going from the urgent yet atmospheric "Oak Ridges," with its faint echoes of Nick Cave, to "Such a Little Word," with its nod to the Byrds' "You Ain't Going Nowhere," and the cover of Blue Rodeo's "Palace of Gold", here retitled "Stories Often Told." For all that they summon up traces of other artists, however, the Sadies are more than the sum of that. They inject their own style, and stir it all together for a sound that's become indisputably theirs over the years. The raw production suits them, and in Stories Often Told they might just have made their most successful -- and complete -- record to date.

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