The Sheepdogs learn to burn

By in Culture

The Sheepdogs are running back to Saskatoon after a three-week tour of eastern Canada and the north-eastern U.S., which concluded at Toronto’s Canadian Music Week.

As major contributors to a classic rock revival, the Sheepdogs have been building up an impressive fan base. Their newest album, Learn and Burn, can only help.

Learn and Burn sees the band getting more psychedelic and laying on thick harmonies, while keeping the punchy, rock ‘n’ roll sound wholly intact.

“It’s all about the type of music that we like,” said Ewan Currie, lead singer of the group. “Typically it’s older rock ‘n’ roll: CCR, Zeppelin, the Stones and the Beatles. It’s all about harmonies and melody — good grooving rhythm sections.”

The CBC, for one, has taken notice. On A Cold Road, an upcoming concert at Louis’ pub featuring local bands Maybe Smith, Slow Down Molasses and the Sheepdogs, will be hosted by Grant Lawrence and broadcast live for CBC Radio.

“(CBC) are pretty good to us,” said Currie. “I think they are looking out for Saskatchewan music”¦. They recorded a set of ours at the Ness Creek Festival in Big River and they play us on CBC Radio 3.”

The fresh sounds coming off Learn and Burn may have something to do with the band’s approach to recording it: stepping back from the studio and producing it on their own. The harmonies are spot on and the guitar lines weave throughout the album with genuine pop power. Fans of the Kinks and the Beatles will be hard pressed not to dig the album opener “The One You Belong To” or the jangly “I Don’t Know.”

“The big thing is that with the other albums we rented out a studio. With this, we just recorded it on my computer completely by ourselves. We had a lot of freedom to explore different areas and ideas and make good rock ‘n’ roll.”

For my part, the Sheepdogs’ sound is sometimes overpowering, but if anything, this seems to be the result of unbridled talent. With Learn and Burn the song-writing has been raised to the next level; the songs are more controlled and many are stand-out hits.

“There is a little more psychedelic,” said Currie. “Some of that has to do with more of the more ethereal harmonies and some of the organ sounds. I always liked psychedelic music. It’s funny”¦ they ask you at the Canada/U.S. border what kind of music you like. I wouldn’t want to say ”˜acid rock,’ but I like a bit of that in music.”

The Sheepdogs aren’t new to the Canadian indie circuit but the responses to their shows are getting better all the time. As hardworking musicians they are now seeing the fruits of their labor.

“Winnipeg is always a favourite, but Halifax is quickly becoming a new favourite; they have great appreciation for our brand of rock ‘n’ roll. And we are starting to have better shows in Toronto, which is good because it’s sort of the centre of the Canadian music universe.”

Learn and Burn is for sale at the Vinyl Diner.
The Sheepdogs play with Maybe Smith and Slow Down, Molasses at Louis’ Pub for On a Cold Road on March 26.

photo: Shannon Heather