Trends come and go, styles fall in and out of fashion, but The Sheepdogs remain steadfast in their commitment to rock n’ roll excellence. Since their inception, the band has always sought to play the kind of music they themselves love: “Pure, simple, good-time music,” as singer/guitarist Ewan Currie puts it. It’s no surprise, then, that the band’s fifth LP, Future Nostalgia, is firmly rooted in the rock tradition that listeners have come to expect from the boys.
The idea was simple: find a nice, quiet, secluded place and make a record packed with all the hot guitar licks and sing-along choruses they could muster. So the band holed up in a rented house in the remote, idyllic setting of Stony Lake, Ontario, and set about creating a studio where they could work all hours of the day. “We wanted to cut out all the noise and get back to a place where we could just fully immerse ourselves in music,” says Currie, who took on production duties for the album. “We worked hard, but we also made sure to keep it loose and have ourselves a good time.”
Future Nostalgia is the middle ground between the JUNO-winning, platinum-certified Learn & Burn, which spawned the rock radio staple “I Don’t Know,” and its equally successful follow-up, 2012’s The Sheepdogs, featuring the instantly-recognizable, Gold-certified singles “Feeling Good” and “The Way It Is.”
The former was recorded by Currie and the band in their hometown of Saskatoon before they were propelled to fame as the first unsigned band to grace the cover of Rolling Stone, pressure free and at their own pace. Its follow-up, however, recorded in Nashville with producer and Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, was a much more formal and rigid studio experience. This time, the band aimed to combine the successes and lessons learned from these opposite ends of the recording spectrum.
Future Nostalgia builds upon The Sheepdogs’ foundation of feel-good vocal harmonizing and nasty guitar jamming. “Our musical journey has been about trying to find how we sound our best,” states Currie, and the album represents the pinnacle of their progress thus far. That’s made immediately clear from the opening riff of “Downtown,” an undeniable straight-up rocker that sparkles with the warmth of summer. Down at the other end of the street is “Bad Lieutenant,” which walks a dark and sexy strut courtesy of bassist Ryan Gullen and drummer Sam Corbett, who also tear up the furious “I Really Wanna Be Your Man.”
Newcomers Rusty Matyas and Ewan’s brother Shamus Currie, on guitar and keys respectively, bring a new spirit to the wistful back porch vibes of “Same Old Feeling” or the brooding melancholy of “Jim Gordon.” Elsewhere, the ominous groove of “Help Us All” calls to mind the bleak violence of Blood Meridian as sung by Sly & the Family Stone, punctuated by a devastating trombone solo from Shamus.
Now, The Sheepdogs are eager to embark on the next leg of their journey, which will involve many miles logged and stages played. “I’m excited for people to hear the album, because it’s a labour of love,” Currie says proudly. “Now, it’s just about getting it out there and getting people into it.”
From their cramped Saskatchewan jam space to gold and platinum records and shows with rock icons, The Sheepdogs haven’t strayed from their goal of sharing pure, passionate rock n’ roll with anyone who’ll listen – and Future Nostalgia is packed with it.
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