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Sheepdogs showcase versatility with self-titled release

By in Culture
Left to right: Sam Corbett, Ewan Currie, Ryan Gullen and Leot Hansen of the Sheepdogs.

Not too long ago a little-known group of retro rockers took North America by storm and became hometown heroes over night. Now, a year after the Rolling Stones contest that launched them to fame, the Sheepdogs are ready to prove themselves once again with their new self-titled album, released Sept. 4.

Their third full-length album, produced by Black Keys drummer, Patrick Carney, is a showcase of the bands’ years of experience combined with a lot of new innovation. The 14-track release features all the melodic vocal harmonies that made Learn and Burn a hit and gives a new edge to their classic southern-rock sound.

There’s no denying that the Sheepdogs are heavily influenced by rock legends like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lynard Skynard and possibly even the Beatles. But what is adopted as much as the style is the ideal. Rock music of the ’60s and ’70s fought for freedom and developed creativity – and the Sheepdogs carry on that philosophy.

In an interview with MSN Entertainment, frontman Ewan Currie said, “We don’t want people to think we’re jazz or anything, but we can give you rock music spiced with something else.”

The Sheepdogs are anything but stereotypical rockers. Interspersed with the easy-going rhythm they have poured in jazz, blues, funk and new rock sounds into their latest work.

From one song to the next there are such unique sounds and different feels that it is necessary to listen to this album multiple times to really catch it all. “Ewan’s Blues” and “Javalina” (an instrumental piece) have clearly jazzy influences that make for a really interesting twist to the expected rock rhythms.

The first single, “The Way It Is,” is an instant hit. The catchy lyrics and upbeat tune will have you turning up the volume when it comes on the radio and it is a must-have addition to any party playlist.

The music video for “The Way It Is” was directed by American comedians the Sklar Brothers and debuted on Funny or Die. The laugh-out-loud video shows the band destroying a team of little leaguers in a game of baseball.

Recently, the Sheepdogs created a “Made of Imagination” segment with MTV Canada, also featuring “The Way It Is.” This video is a great example of the musical innovation coming from the band. The guys fuse latin groove into their steady rock and the result is worth listening to.

Since their last full-length and even their EP, Five Easy Pieces, the Sheepdogs seem to have improved their song writing. “How Late, How Long” is a prime example of this. The band took the song from the EP, improved upon it, re-released it on the new CD, and now it is one of the better songs on the album.

While Learn and Burn is a great CD, it had few widely popular songs. Often fans are disappointed with a band’s second release, but this isn’t likely to be the case with the Sheepdog’s latest. The new album is full of tracks that are sure to be hits. Made with hard work and talent, this album will be a definite success.

Long gone are their days of home recording. Working with Atlantic Records on this album has given the Sheepdogs access to new technology and equipment. However, this is still a fairly home-grown album. Everything was done by the band without studio musicians and equipment used was kept to a minimum.

Ewan Currie told MSN Entertainment that “I think being resourceful and working within your means is a big part of what we do.” The guys have made an effort to hold onto their small town roots.

Although a little of home has stayed with them, the Sheepdogs are far from Saskatoon these days. With the Sept. 4 release they have begun a new tour across the states and into the U.K.

No date has been posted for the next time the guys will be playing here in Saskatoon, so until the Sheepdogs come home, support our local rockers by picking up a copy of their new self-titled album.

Photos: Supplied

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