There are things that Canadians are really, really good at, such as playing hockey, clearing snow and apologising profusely. Producing great music, it's fair to say, has been a bit hit and miss. The Sheepdogs, from the Saskatchewan city of Saskatoon, are becoming more of a hit as each album comes along. The blues-rock quintet have released their fifth album, Future Nostalgia, welcoming a masterful combination of infectious riffs and sincere self-reflection.
The record kicks off with I'm Gonna Be Myself a rambunctious number plastered with the irresistible grooves that The Sheepdogs have been honing since they formed in 2006. It's powerful, yet easy on the ears - a theme that manifests itself throughout this record - epitomised to its fullest, and arguable best, in I Really Wanna Be Your Man.
Downtown and Giving It Up (For My Baby) channel The Kinks to great effect, especially in the case of the 'Lola'-inspired latter. So many of the iconic and most recognisable nuances of some of the greatest rock and roll bands can be heard in this record, that Future Nostalgia could not have been more appropriately named.
Releasing an 18-track record is a dangerous game to play. The Sheepdogs run the risk of padding out the space with too many fillers and not enough quality. But, thankfully, there isn't a single bad track on this record. It caters for most tastes on the classic rock spectrum, from the pseudo-mystic instrumental tribute to Jim Sullivan - the cosmos-obsessed singer/songwriter who mysteriously disappeared in the New Mexico desert in 1975 - to the dynamic blues-rock grooves and driving feel of Back Down and Help Us All. Not many bands have the ability to make a record that is so consistently accomplished, yet differs so greatly from one track to the next.
No-one shows off on this record, which makes for a joyous listening experience. The rhythm section's sound is irresistible, and the harmonies are sublime, and frontman Ewan Currie's vocals are powerful, yet smooth. Emotive, without any of the pretence.
To summarise, this is definitely an album worth listening to. Whether you're already a fan of The Sheepdogs, or new to their material, there is something for everyone to enjoy. In a land where you turn up to a fight and a hockey game breaks out, rock and roll lives. The Sheepdogs have created a warm, yet pulsating record with a timeless sound. So, what are you waiting for, eh?
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