Bands get worse over time; it’s an immutable law. Not THE SADIES. After a dozen years and eight (or is it nine?) albums (excluding their collaborations with Andre Williams, Neko Case et al.) The Sadies just get better and better. And with Darker Circles they’ve made their strongest and most fully realized work to date. It’s tempting to write that the band has ‘matured’, but in rockcritspeak that’s usually code for ‘old, tired and boring’—which they are not. The Sadies can still out-sing, out-pick and out-rock anyone out there, but there’s a new depth to their songwriting now, a process they began to perfect on 2007’s New Seasons but which has blossomed here in spectacular fashion.
As the title suggests, Darker Circles is a more somber, soul searching affair than its predecessor. There’s a haunting, spiritual quality to songs like Kut Corners, Tell Her What I Said, Whispering Circles and The Quiet One; ghosts of regret and lost love reverberate softly between the vocals and guitars or “drift like whispers that echo in your mind.” Even when the band rocks out, like on the fuzz-drenched garage-psych opener, Another Year Again, the lyrics wrestle with themes of failure, rejection and mortality.
In the past The Sadies have been pigeonholed as country-rock—or worse, alt-country—a lazy label that fails to do them justice. While there’s no arguing that country music runs in their blood, they’ve always been closer in spirit to Younger Than Yesterday than Sweetheart Of The Rodeo—just check out Postcards or Violet and Jeffrey Lee. In other words, country is just one element of an increasingly unique and distinctive Sadies sound that draws on a range of influences from garage, folk-rock and psychedelia, to Link Wray and Ennio Morricone.
On Darker Circles all these elements come together perfectly to create a record that feels like a real album in the classic sense of the word. In an age where art, music and culture are usually instantly disposable, The Sadies have accomplished that most rare of feats—they’ve created something timeless.
The Jay Vons
Brothers and Sisters, to witness The Jay Vons in action is to believe. A personal appearance by The Jay Vons is a "happening." The stage lights pop on. Suddenly music explodes alive and present. Soon the beats into you, penetrating skull and belly. Something inside has got to move. You notice this group: clean cut – groomed hair – neat. Their steps are smooth and graceful. Thumping on his custom Harmony bass ax is Benny Trokan. His insistent bottom sound produces The Jay Vons' trademark: heavy, driving rhythm. Banging away on drums is Mikey (Custodian of Soul) Post. He keeps two things working: mouth and drums. That haunting, ever-riding whang comes from the unique lead guitar of Mike "the Cat" Catanese. On organ is Dave Amels. Personable, strong and seasoned, Dave's forte is the hurting kind. Lead vocals rotate between Ben and Mike, but sometimes Mikey is given a well-deserved solo spot. Their songs would best be described as danceable heartbreakers. As you shuffle across the floor your eyes will fill with tears. On their forth-coming single "Days Undone" B/W "Never Take me Back" (Cryptovision Records) you will notice that The Jay Vons sound on-stage just like their records. They use no studio musicians. They are what they are.