Review: The Sheepdogs — Future Nostalgia


thesheepdogs-futurenostalgiaIt’s hard to know for sure whether The Sheepdogs named this album “Future Nostalgia” with a sense of irony, but if they did it would be a bit of a surprise, because there’s nothing deliberately ironic about them or their music. Like many Canadian artists, they are earnest and honest and straightforward, almost to a fault.

Of course the irony is that like all The Sheepdogs output to date, the music is drenched in a loving nostalgia for the 1970s. And like all artists who slavishly try to reproduce sounds from another era – artists such as The Black Crowes or Rafael Saadiq – the overarching question is Why? What is the point in doing something exactly the way it was done before?

Rock has grown as an art form because artists have taken existing musical paradigms and added something new to it. If people really dig seventies music, they can’t do any better than listening to real music from the seventies. If you’re not bringing anything new to the table, then you’re closer to a tribute act or a novelty act.

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I would really love to see The Sheepdogs try to branch out a little more and bring some fresh ideas into their sound, because they are a very solid band. Ewan Currie truly has one of the best voices in Rock today, and they are really fine musicians all. Perhaps a collaboration with some new songwriters might take the staleness out of their lyrics and melodies.

I found that their mid-tempo numbers work best because it is a little bit harder to discern the Lynyrd Skynyrd/Bad Company/ZZ Top/Led Zep derivations. OK, the single “Downtown” seems to channel the Guess Who, but it’s a serviceable little track. “Nothing All Of The Time” isn’t an obvious nick, and it has a nice little bounce. “Take A Trip” has a really sweet two-stage solo break – if anything, it might be better for these guys to show off their virtuosity with longer solos, and keep the derivative songwriting to a minimum.

Look, it’s all pleasant enough not to offend too many people. Some older folks who never left the seventies musically might really dig this stuff, but the problem with many of those people is that they refuse to listen to anything new. And younger people would be better off going back to the original sources in the first place. Which begs the ultimate question: Who exactly is the target audience for this album?

Release Date: Oct. 2, 2015

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