Review – The Sheepdogs (self-titled)

If I could be a professional in any endeavor in life, it would be as an uncle. I’m the youngest of six and due to my parents’ lack of rhythm when it came to the rhythm method, I was our family’s “little miracle”. This result of poor planning by Mom and Pops meant that by age 7, I became an uncle for the first time. I now have 13 nieces and nephews and I treat them all like co-stars in my personal version of Jackass. With me, they guzzle sugar an hour before their bedtime, spin down hills until they puke, learn new and interesting swear words, and leap off couches into giant pillow forts constructed moments earlier. I do this not because I don’t love them, but because of how much I love them. My brothers and sisters, the same people who dared me to jump off the roof and told me if I kept my finger in my belly button for an entire day I would gain the power of flight, expect me to teach their kids to how to be kids. I’ll never impart great wisdom to them in a paternal sense. There won’t be any “dining room table talks”, where my dad would sit me down to discuss life’s big milestones like colleges and careers. But I can let them know that you work hard so you can play hard, you don’t have to follow all the rules, and just because something is stupid doesn’t mean it’s not fun.

And if I were to be made a professional uncle, I would declare The Sheepdogs to be music’s uncle. We at NYMN have met the guys and watched them live. You can watch our interview with The Sheepdogs for a taste of how much they rock and how they seem like genuinely nice guys…which they are. Are they long hairs who wear tight jeans and make the ladies scream? Damn straight. And God bless them for all they do. They’re throwbacks – like Coors Banquet beer, straight razors, and ratchet sets. But just like those seemingly archaic devices, they do the job better than their modern counterparts and are putting the musical landscape on notice. By eschewing current trends, they’re accomplishing what the bands our uncles and our uncles before them achieved in an era before a laptop was an instrument. This music is blunt and rowdy and puts a scowl on your face. They may be sheepdogs, but I see four gamecocks – spending their early mornings rousing us from bed and their night-times fighting for their lives with file-sharpened claws and metal spurs.

These Saskatoon serenaders show all sides of the Loonie on this album. The first track, “Laid Back” is a Southern sing-along which sets in perfect motion an album that reminds you of the all the reasons why you first fell in love with the Allman Brothers, Lynard Skynard, and the Marshall Tucker Band.

Uncles are great at teaching life lessons. Your uncle teaches you how to open a beer with your belt buckle or how to shoot a BB gun. He’ll also never let you win, because what good will that do? Want to learn a lesson? Have your ass handed to you while trying your best. In their music video for “The Way It Is”, we see the boys beating the snot out of some youngsters born into an era of kids playing games where refs don’t keep score and everyone is a winner.

The Sheepdogs also includes an acoustic song “Javelina!” to allow the boys to do some on-site exploration and later share earnest harmonies on the track “Is Your Dream Worth Dying For?”.  This is an album that is classically fresh with nostalgia built on a single listen. A novel experience, yet comfortingly familiar – aural déjà vu.

The guys start their first coast to coast U.S. headline tour on September 16th and will be playing the Bowery Ballroom on September 22nd. They will also be playing several shows with Buffalo Killers, who NYMN profiled last month. Check out our interview with Buffalo Killers here.

“The Sheepdogs” is out today on iTunes…