The Sadies / Colder Streams / 2022: Connecting the threads

On February 17 2022, Dallas Good, guitar-player and vocalist for the Canadian country/psych band, The Sadies, unexpectedly died from a coronary illness. Dallas was 48 years old. The band’s already finished album, Colder Streamwas then released in July 2022. Colder Streams isn’t just another great album by the Sadies. The band has been making great albums since their first in 1998 with, Precious MomentsColder Streams is something more than a great record; it’s the moment when the band moved beyond all that had been previously accomplished. The album chronicling, refining and questioning the very musical landscape the Sadies have created. RIP Dallas Good.

Before we take a closer look at the new Sadies album, Colder Streams, I want to share a bit of context on how I (re)discovered country music. And also to pay tribute to a man who helped me understand the music; a former neighbor with whom I never exchanged more than a passing glance. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the threads that connect.

Mr. Maurer was a big man; easily 6’6 / 275lbs. He was the kind of man who rarely spoke to anyone and always carried the look of hard work and internal struggle. He was also a huge country music fan. Everyone on the block could hear his music playing on Saturday afternoons as he attended to his yard (and drank a countless amount of Budweiser). At the time, Country was a musical genre for which I had very little sympathy or understanding. And the truth was, I thought the music was a bit of a joke. I was a denim-chad, long-haired teenager who couldn’t help but snicker at all that gushing emotional earnestness. Keep in mind, our Mr. Maurer wasn’t listening to the bro-country that is so popular today or even the big-hat sounds of Garth Brooks. Mr. Maurer was strictly old school; playing records by Johnny Cash or George Jones or Merle Haggard as the afternoons turned into the evening. At the end of the day, you could find him just sitting on the porch, surrounded by empty cans of Bud. Listening to music that seemed to take a special pleasure in dissecting every aspect human heartbreak.

Will you still love me when I am down and out / In my time of trials will you stand by me / Would you go away to another land and walk a thousand miles through the burning sand / Wipe the blood away from my dying hand / If I give my self to you David Allan Coe / Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)

In the meantime, I were busy with a very different concept of music; experiencing my first flirtations with the metal and punk music that would captivate most of my teenage years. Falling deeply for the raw guitars and rebellious lyrics of Motörhead, The Damned and the Heartbreakers. The way I saw it, there was no common ground; country music was the antithesis of my own youthful tribulations.

I used to lie in my room and just stare / Frustrated eyes flipping pages of air / And gaze after gaze, I could see nothing there / I was just a flaw in the scheme / Of everything but nightmarish dreams / No one could stand feeling that way for long / So I, I chose to regard all the world as the wrong Richard Hell & the Voidiods / Staring in Her Eyes

It wasn’t until my college years that I would (re)discover country music; watching Mr. Maurer‘s family dispose of his sizable record collection just days after he died; I spent a week rescuing stacks of vinyl that had been thoughtlessly discarded in the curb-side trash. Pulling out records that looked interesting or out of some sense of loyalty for the forgotten old-man. But it didn’t take long before the poetry within those records began to be revealed. There was indeed rebellion and anger lurking beneath the surface of those silly country songs; the same societal betrayal that inspired Johnny Thunder and Richard Hell was there in the voices of Johnny Cash and David Allen Coe (and countless others). The threads were always there. I just needed to listen more closely; country music has the same search for sanctuary. The same working-class anger masked behind alcohol and drug addition. And I can’t help but think of Mr. Maurer whenever I play one of his records; records that have remained in my trust after all these years. A few even rank among my favorites; Johnny Cash’s Ride This Train, Willie Nelson’s Phase and Stages or Guy Clark’s Old No. 1. The truth is, there are far more similarities between the pathologies of Mr. Maurer and myself then I care to articulate.


The Sadies‘ new album comes at a strange time. The death of guitarist/vocalist Dallas Good in February obviously hit the band hard. And it must have been a bitter/sweet experience releasing the record after his death. The weight of Good‘s passing can be felt on every note of music on the album. The Sadies have always cultivated a very direct relationship with their audience. And most fans feel a strong bond with all the members of the band. Their poignant music articulating a very real sense of a community that exists outside the parameters of the musical mainstream.

It would be tempting to call Colder Streams an album that returns the Sadies to their core assets of songwriting and adventurous playing. And perhaps on some surface level the album is a summary of their past; there certainly is a noticeable refinement of their psychedelic-country explorations. But Colder Streams goes deeper into the darker currents that run beneath the complex instrumentation. There are no reasurances of the past to be found; the music does not retreat into some fake retro-elegance of the past. There is nothing muted or calming about the flow of one track into the next. In fact, the band is quite direct in exposing the veneer of comfort and normalcy that we hear being preached by our leaders. All is not well in the kingdom. The band traveling through the same unsettled territory that seems to have engulfed every corner of the globe. On both a micro and marco level, the Sadies address the weight of events that have shattered our fragile sense of stability and hope. These are harsh and vulgar times and a normal dialogue would feel inadequate at best;

Nothing changes and nothing lasts / I’m tired of trying to forgive / Turn over the empty hour glass / And hope to forget what was said / When I search for answers / Questions are all I find / Wish I knew what I needed to do this time / I still have so much to learn / Because of the lessons I missed / I appreciate all of your concern / But I burned down every bridgeThe Sadies / All the Good

There is an underlying uneasiness that runs through each song on the record. And Colder Streams will suprise many listeners with it’s directness; focusing on the realities of societal decline and the brutality of fading empires. Stop and Start begins the album with a direct, muscular punch that feels almost reassuring. But instead of false safety, the band invites the audience to join them on a rather risky venture. And the only assurance is that there will be hard times ahead; “Seven years until the hex is broken. Seven years to endure the curse. And no magic words can be spoken. Potions and prayers will make it worse“. Lyrically, the Sadies have always had a strong voice to share with their audience. But on Colder Streams the music pulls us into the atmosphere of the living, breathing song. A darkly beautiful landscape that is both irresistible and apocalyptic.

Of course, Colder Streams does contains those elements that listener’s have come to expected. The band developing on the musical traditions that they established throughout their career; the warm jangle of mid-period Byrds; the neo-psychedelia of the paisley underground; and the California country of Bakersfield. The Sadies deliver on all these elements. And they are still capable of hitting us hard with a pro-forma garage swagger that wouldn’t be out of place on an MC5 record. However, there are some noticeable musical difference on this outing; The band advancing a more ornate, detailed maturity to their sound without sacrificing their core identity. For example, on So Far for So Few, the band mixes a rich vocal harmony with a acid-jangle climax that is uniquely the Sadies. And never, not once, does the music lean into a retro or traditional sound. On Colder Streams, the band maintains the raw passion of their live show while building the complex, psychedelic interplay between their instruments. The result is an album full of fire, intensity and contrasts. Contrasts that become an important asset on the album; On Cut Up High and Dry, the band uses the rough edges of their sound to underscore a (seemingly) simple lyric of forgotten love. And then mixes that personal yearnings with the urgency of global destruction.

Love thy neighbour and your family and friends / The power and the glory forever and ever, Amen / Wait till the world’s caught fire, then try to pretend / All our sins are forgiven in the endThe Sadies / Cut up High and Dry.

On Colder Streams, The Sadies are searching; struggling to find a refuge in those cool, life-giving streams. Struggling to find the common ground. The toxicity of our sky, water and land has shaken our trust and hope in the future. And the environment is only the beginning of a long list of human calamities that are beyond our reach; the solutions only unveiling further dilemmas. Even the most basic resources of life now seem beyond our grasp. On Message to Belial, the uneasy themes are examined up close and personal. And we are given no choice but to feel the sting of heartache. The band mixing the message of damnation with the inability to connect with a lost and forgotten love. And the willingness to see everything burn in flames over the pain.

I searched through the heavens and down in the underworld
The circle is broken you’ve been away for so long

Rise! Rise! The dawn of creation / Lucifer, Lucifer, what have you done / Fall! Fall! Last chance for salvation / The end of all nations, the darkest of ages has come

One, two, three times, we’re ruined / Dantalion won’t even dare make a sound / Look to the north as we descend south and / Watch heaven from hell as it burns to the ground

Indeed there are common thread to be found, when we look closely. As the institutions around us decline and crumble, people will need the strong voice of the musicans and artists. Brave and truthful voices that aren’t afraid to challenge an increasingly dangerous ruling-class. In 1971, John Lennon wrote a simple demand for honestly in a song; with Gimme Some Truth, Lennon’s anger was directed at the powerful elites that profits from American imperialism; “I’m sick and tired of hearing things. From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics. All I want is the truth. Just gimme some truth“. Lennon was specificly calling out the “hypocrites, bigots, prima donnas and White House incumbent” attempting to convince the public the War in Vietnam was “winnable”. Unfortunately, matters have only gotten worse as endless war and conflict set the planet on fire. In 2022 the Sadies have remain true to themselves and their audience. Speaking honestly even when it’s difficult and uncomfortable. At their core they are still the band from Toronto, Ontario. The musicians holding true to the principles that helped them navigate the last twenty years. The future may be uncertain for Travis Good and Sean Deanband & Mike Belitsky as they continue the journey without Dallas Good. But that is true for all of us as we seek a future in these strange and uncertain times.


The Byrds’ Top 10 Albums: A Revisionist History

America’s answer to the Rolling Stones? Most important rock music of the 1960s? Music writers seem to enjoy these type of clichés. And why not? They simplify the thinking process significantly. Reducing the complexities of a bands catalog to a quick catch-phrase that everyone can just parrot. But a proper study of the Byrds discography shouldn’t be approached with such a lighthearted or off-handed approach. Their talents, creativity and art deserve at least as much consideration as any experimental music or the vast catalog of Funkadelic. So we have endeavored to create a more thoughtful list for your consideration. The music of Roger McGuinn and Company is a highlight of 1960s rock music. Mingling the raw guitar-jangle of a proper garage-rock with a flaux-cosmic country. The Byrds music and their sound is completely unique and indeed, uniquely American. For better or worse, that’s the only proper way to say it. Other bands may have rocked harder or played with greater intensity but few were able to touch the Byrds voyage into greatness. But what truly set the band apart was the great songs and detailed production that the band executed in the studio. Many of their albums are complete artistic statements. As important as any band to emerge from the turbulence of the late 60s. And the range of their influence went deep into popular music in the decades ahead. Defining the jangle-guitar sound that would soon be adopted by many individual bands, as well as entire genres and sub-genres of music; from 80s & 90s power-pop like the Posies or Jellyfish to less obvious groups like Blue Oyster Cult and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. The Byrds musical influence is undeniable.

It’s tempting to segment a band with such a vast tenture into distinct periods to investigate and study; 1) The early jangle pop of Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn, Turn, Turn. 2) The psychedelic excursions of Mr. Spaceman or Eight Miles High. 3) And the atmospheric country-rock vibes of Sweetheart of the Rodeo. While that’s somewhat helpful when viewing the music through a certain fan lens, it’s more important to listen to the Byrds discography as a singluar unit; a twisting and turning creative juggernaut that continuously produced great music right up until their final collaborations.

And one final, often forgotten, point about the Byrds; in addition to their studio work, The Byrds remained a potent live force throughout their many changing members and journeys. Nothing demonstrates this fact better than the officially released, Live At The Filmore – February 1969 performance. Here the Byrds demonstrate their later country-influenced sound with guitar legend Clarance White. Focusing on material mostly from the later-half of their career. Gone is the jingle-jangle of their signature sound. Fillmore 69 finds a band moving beyond the limitation of their hit-machine years. Every thoughtful collection of Byrds music should include this is special live document. So let’s jump into the Vinyl Dreamscape’s Top 10 Byrds Albums. This is our not-so-humble attempt to refocus the appreciation of the Byrds music onto the totality of their output. Perhaps even shine some sunlight on those valuable records that don’t get the attention they deserve.The Byrds were a band defined by more then their singles. (And they did indeed produce fantastic singles that have stood the test of time). Remember, there is real depth to the band’s musical accomplishment and it would be a shame not to seeking a full examination of the importance of the albums and influence.

10) Farther Along / 1971 : The Byrds’ 11th and final album before the reunion of the original members in 1973, Farther Along is largely dismissed as one of the band’s most flawed late-period albums. And that’s a mistake. Firstly, the record features the genius guitar-picking of Clarence White. His unique style brings a country-bluegrass sound to the Byrds’ music. Looking closer at the track listing, Farther Along is full of hidden secrets and rarified gems. Drummer Gene Parsons brings two outstanding songs to the playlist; B.B. Class Road and Get Down Your Line. Both are light as a feather (in a good way) and reflect the laid-back vibe that permeates the record. If you find Further Along to your liking, check out White‘s pedal-steel workout’s on Gene Parsons’ very likable solo album, Kindling; a cosmic-bluegrass hippie trip from 1973.

09) The Byrds (reunion) / 1973 : The first big reunion attempt with all five of the original members contributing to the album in one form or another. Somehow, The Byrds (reunion) album is forever overlooked by critics and fans. But there’s gold in them thar overlooked grooves. Although it must be said, the two song contributions from David Crosby are completely negligible. Just don’t let that discourage you from jumping right into this great little record.The original singles are certainly worth your immediate time and attention; Gene Clarks‘ brilliant Full Circle and Chris Hillman’s Things Will Be Better. Both songs crackling with the fresh spark of inventiveness that aways made the Byrds‘ music so special. Changing Hearts is another Gene Clark song that shouldn’t be missed. On the negitive side, the album play more like a collection of individual tracks rather then a fluid collection by a functions unit. And clearly their sound/music had changed by 1973. However, there is an appealing campfire quality to the sessions that is often over looked. In fact, the resulting music is not dissimilar to that of the Band. The Byrds (reunion) album has some great, smokey highs waiting to be discovered. And some unfortunate lows. But the buzz is worth the effort.

08)(Untitled) / 1970 : Half-live and half-studio, Untitled can be a confusing and difficult album to get your head around. But it’s the schizophrenic nature that makes the record such a unique listen. Apparently, the original concept behind the songs was that they would be include as the score to theaterical stage-play. When the business deal behind the effort fell apart, the songs found their way onto the new Byrds record. Whatever the source, Untitled finds the band moving confidently into uncharted waters. There are two colaborations between the Byrds‘ new bass player Skip Battin and future Runaway‘s svangeli Kim Fowley; Hungry Planet and You All Look Alike. Of course, everyone claims to love Chestnut Mare (It’s just OK IMO) but Truck Stop Girl is brillant; a Lowell George (Little Feat) track that shouldn’t be missed. Oh…and the live material is good to great. Don’t miss the CD reissue which expands the live material to two full discs. Worth hunting down if you are so inclined.

07) Sweatheart of the Rodeo / 1968: Much has been written about this record. The problem is, Sweartheart just isn’t as great as everyone pontificates. Don’t get me wrong, there are good tracks to be found. But that could be said of any Byrds album. Only Bobby Zimmerman‘s You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere and the Louvin Brother’s Christian Life provided any real heat to this poor-man’s sermon. The rest of the record has pleasant moments but that’s the problem. It’s easy to get lost in the dusty pleasantries and cosmic bluesmoke-and-mirrors but there is little nourishment on the bone. A country-rock milestone? Maybe. Check out Gram Parson‘s two Flying Burrito Brothers‘ albums for a similar sound with better songs. Nevertheless, let us concede; Sweetheart is a very good record that everyone should appreciate.

06)Ballad of Easy Rider / 1969 : Laid-back in all the right ways; Ballad has the hippie-rock vibes that everyone can love. It’s just impossible for me to hear the simple beauty of the title track without the images of a young Peter Fonda and Dennis Hooper zig-zag their choppers across the American south/west. Their tragic search for freedom and meaning looping through my head as the music softly flows. And that title track sets the tone for this lush, expansive piece of music. All the mysteries are here if you seek them out; the joys and nightmares of a nation that has lost it’s way linger in the silence between each track. Even Jesus is Just Alright sound great on a hot summer day; racing to the beach with the morning sun in our eyes. The music loud and the wind on your soft face. Her dark-shining hair seemed a beautiful, goddamn mess. Oh…Get the vinyl if you must but don’t miss out on all the great bonus greats on the CD reissue. And yes, you need them.

05) Turn! Turn! Turn! / 1965 : Turn, Turn, Turn gets and deserves a lots of respect. The album placing at the number five position only demonstrates the strength of the band’s full discography. But let us get right into the music; who could overlook the sad beauty of Gene Clarks’ Set You Free This Time and The World Turns All Around Her? Both are beyond my ability to touch or analyze in this moment. Let’s just say that words & music are rarely such a fulfillment of a man’s unspoken heartache and emptied soul. The truth and mystery of unrealized love presented as a singular and stoic concessional. Not an admission to a god or priest or audience. No. These are the truths that remains forever within. Both songs lift the album to a plateau that is far beyond song-craft and skill. These are the sounds and thoughts that swirls around our heads deep into the night. Like a lost radio broadcast of an internal conversation; the transmission scattered and too painful to articulate openly. Just don’t listen too close, you may hear your own lonely voice between the static. Enough said.

04) Mr. Tambourine Man / 1965: A band producing two albums as great as Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn, Turn, Turn in the same year? Here is the birth of the Rickenbacker‘s “jingle jangle morning“. A near perfect listening experience that couple’s Gene Clark‘s original compositions and those great Zimmerman covers. The result is a real-time classic that actually deserve the label. Mr. Tambourine Man is a suprisingly, dark and complex pop record with more happening beneath the surface then you may expect. One such gem is Gene Clark’s overlooked Here Without You.The song was actually written before the Byrds came into existence. Dating back to 1964 when the band were still called Jet Set. Don’t miss the Preflyte compilation which gather together all the early demo versions of the songs such as, Here Without You, You Won’t Have to Cry, I Knew I’d Want You, and Mr. Tambourine Man recorded before the first album as Jet Set.

03)The Notorious Byrd Brothers / 1968: It would be tempting to say that these last three picks are just interchangable. And it’s almost true. The recording sessions for the album began with the same band members as the previous two albums; Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke. However, as they say, times were changing. David Crosby was fired by McGuinn and Hillman AND then replaced by a former member Gene Clark. Unfortunately, Clark only last for the final three weeks of the albums session. By the time of the release, only McGuinn and Hillman remained as offical members. The Notorious Byrd Brothers‘ kicks off with a psychedelic-pop gem that works beyond any expectations. Artificial Energy recapturing the promise and optimism of the band’s early singles, while still moving-on musically. Notorious is an album full of these interesting suprises. Get to You is credited on the record as being written by McGuinn and Hillman. However, there are all those rumors the song was actullly writen by Gene Clark. The song is good but not great. Striking as more craft then the magic Clark was capable of producing. On the otherhand, Carol King‘s outstanding Goin Back is another highlight. A ballad that is overflowning with all the ingredients that make the Byrds music so enjoyable.

02) Fifth Dimension / 1966 : Oddly, most of Fifth Dimension was recorded after the departure of the band principle songwriter, Gene Clark. But instead of falling into disaray, the group rallied and others stepped into the role. The result is a truly unique masterpieces of expansive and adventurous music. Included amoung the many highlights is the psych-rock classic, Eight Miles High. A song that demonstrates that the band’s output was not tied to any individual member. Clark’s songwriting skills may have been missing but the Byrds had a very talented bench. The two McGuinn-penning tracks, Mr. Spaceman and 5D(Fifth Dimension) are both psych-pop masterpieces. The music taking flight far beyond the limitations of the jangle-pop sound. Fifth Dimension finds our Byrd Brother‘s at their most interesting and complex musically. The album is a brilliant “next-step” for a band that made very few mistakes as they moved forward.


01) Younger Than Yesterday / 1967 : What is this? An experimential pscyhelelic/country rock masterpece? Or just my controversial choice for the number one spot? Everyone in the band is still present and accounted. But the music is moving beyond the traditional moniker’s of mere pop or rock music.Besides all the Bob Dylan covers (all good), Chris Hillman demonstrate his many gifts; credited as the songwriter on the beautiful Have You Seen Her Face, Time Between, Thoughts and Words, and brilliant The Girl with No Name. Hillman is also credited as the co-writer of So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, which he also sings with McGuinn and David Crosby. That’s an amazing track record for a single album. Additionally, Gary Usher’s detailed production is exploding all over the record. Inspiring the band to move away from the rawness of the early albums. Some have refered to this album as the Byrds most mature work.And although that is likely true, “mature” misses the point entirely. Younger Than Yesterday is full of the freshness and vitality of a creative unit functioning at the height of the considerable collective powers. These are colors and textures that are completely new to the bands sound. A beautiful kaleidoscope view of the world that the band was experiencing together. This music is the best of what the 1960s had to offer from with mainstream of rock music. It’s also a record that grows more important with each listen. Never forget.

The Rose City Band / Earth Trip / 2021

The Rose City Band / Earth Trip / 2021

Sample Silver Roses

With their 2020 album, Summerlong, the Rose City Band gave us the near perfect vehicle to escape. The music serving as the guildpost for our imaginations and limitations. And the trip was real. Like a musical Shaman, Ripley Johnson‘s psychedelic head-music both appreciated the past and navigated the new frontiers of our pandemic dystopia. There was hope in those trippy vibes and voodoo-smoke lyrics. The embers of Summerlong burnt deep into my head throughout the most difficult and unforgiving year. And Summerlong was the antidote for that forever lost summer of 2020. Providing the hope of creativity and art as we watched the days disintegrate before us.

On the surface Earth Trip is full of the same cosmic country-rock that has always made the Rose City Band‘s music so special and personal. But 2021 is looking very, very different then the pre-pandemic blue sky of Summerlong. The season’s certainly have changed with the cool realism of fall and winter closing in on us. The album’s first track, Silver Roses is an immediate indication that this journey will focus more within rather then the starry night of our dreams(cape). The familar earthbound melody of Knocking on Heaven’s Door is reimposed within the song’s structure. The lyric is delicate and personal. Filled with the details of (re)discovering the struggles and pleasures of the everyday life. More importantly, understanding that the answer to this world’s problems are not in the vast loneliness of the cosmos but closer to home.

The theme of interconnectiveness is central and reenforced often throughout this rich and textured album. Most notably, the brilliant pedal-steel of guest player, Barry Walker. His sparkling fills weaving each track into the next. Creating a conceptual whole of interlocking music and songs with Ripley Johnson‘s understated (and under appreciate) vocal style. The two musicans fusing their talents together into a complex synthesis of sound. The music leaving behind any traditional definitions of rock, country, psychedelic or spiritual.

Earth Trip still has elements of that early moring buzz after an evening under the stars. Days filled with the simple satisfactions of fixing a broken door. But always with elements of a dark earthiness lingering in the shadow. A weariness that has perhaps always been with us. The music of the Rose City Band can be decepitive at first glance. The sparse arrangements masking the layers of shading just under the surface. You may need to look a bit closer on Earth Trip. The music is full of secrets and shy beauty. The lessons are there for all with the patients and maturity to see.You can best get started after an early morning smoke and a cup of strong coffee. Pay attention to the open spaces and hidden details within everyday life. The full agenda is there and much closer then we think.