The Sheepdogs: Rocking A New Release

The deep American South.

Origin of some of the greatest classic rock of the century; everything ranging from Marshall Tucker Band to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Charlie Daniels – all twangy strum-savvy legends whose bluesy tales finally decorated the airwaves after being carried in their empty, lovelorn and tattered back pockets.

Saskatoon.

Not exactly the origin of too much musical genius. But, something relative about the endless plains and valleys managed to accomplish breeding the contemporary Canadian version of such righteous rock ‘n roll entertainment, better known as The Sheepdogs.

Similar to the old adage that an owner slowly begins to mimic their dog after years together – or maybe it’s the other way around – this scruffy foursome certainly look the part. The part being both country canine and free-spirited revivalist rockers.

Over a year and a half after the Canuck clan won Rolling Stone Magazine’s Cover Challenge – a contest auctioning off a spot on the coveted front page, record deal with Atlantic  and subsequent airwave acclaim in return for voter’s approval of submitted tunes – the band is full leaps and bounds outside of Saskatchewan small gig territory. Their nearly immediate release Learn and Burn spread like prairie wildfire – with the olden-rock anthem “I Don’t Know” and it’s velvety, Ewan Currie-led harmonies winning hearts north and south of the border at first radio spin.

And last week, after a year of festival hopping, opening for some of their genre’s biggest acts and pressing songs in between, the ‘Dogs were let out last week – in the form of their scorching full-length major label debut.

And it really is stage-melting rock. Some people will argue that rock music has gone by the wayside, and it’s my opinion those people lack the open-mindedness to embrace new and more eclectic variations of the genre. But, oof – if you’re looking for that drive down the dusty road, cold cracked Budweiser, head to toe denim, pressed up against your sweaty love interest at the front of the stage straight-up kind of rock reincarnation, then you’ve got our home-grown boys, and producer Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, to thank for this one.

Similar to early embodiments of what so many of us view as “real rock” – the kind “they don’t make anymore” (again, a moot point – they do) – The Sheepdogs have achieved that gooey kind of 70s feel-good intimacy on this album. The kind that’s captured through an unmistakably perfect male vibrato, growling and shaking alongside the amp-baking electric guitar solos and swirling psychedelic keyboard. The kind that’s equal parts croons and riffs speaking to love lost, love gained, the ride and all of the bulls**t in between. The real rock stuff of real rock artists.

On “Never Gonna Get My Love,” a sliding George Harrison guitar wails away alongside marching band percussion while Electric Light Orchestra choral harmonies chirp from the background. Golden time-machine highlights that preach carelessness and idle, ramblin’ freedom come in the form of Allman Brothers-esque anthems “Alright OK” and a trippy sitar-laden “In My Mind”; pacified ditties that highlight Currie’s bellowing and milky Morrison-meets-Fogerty vocals. Possibly most single-ready is “Feeling Good” – a buzzing boogie so obviously influenced by Carney’s production team with a rhythmic addictiveness that will easily coax concert goers onto shoulders and women out of their shirts, whether by way of the breezy lyrics or plodding clap beat. And all of the above, plus extras and a fall tour line-up, will remind any listener that rock ‘n roll is alive, very well and proud to be Canadian.

 

 

 

I’ll be seeing The Sheepdogs this weekend at Echo Beach in Toronto, ON – tickets can be found here!

 

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Make A Run For It

 

Toronto looking south from Queen’s Park

By this weekend, it will officially be summer. Although I don’t think we needed June 21st to alert us of the transition – packed patios, summer softball, thick humidity and consequently inexplicable hair have been doing a fine job of that – it’s significant to note that the temperamental spring weather might be behind us and we can safely unstick our noses from the rain drenched windows and get outside.

As far as I’m concerned, one of the best and most adult ways to play outside is to say goodbye to the months of monotonous pedalling on the treadmill or elliptical and hit the city pavement for a much-needed change of scenery. Although the convenience of having a gym at work or in your building might appear to trump any kind of fitness that involves steering away from home – I think most people would agree that by taking your workouts elsewhere, you’ll actually find them more diverse, stimulating and painless than operating within the four walls of a crowded gym.

Although some will always argue that music has no effect on physical training, that’s all fine and well – but I beg to differ that those people just haven’t been listening to the right music. In fact, the rest of the population (and I) would go as far as to say that a scientific selection of music enhances the entire fitness experience by feeding the physical appetite and motivation of anyone pumping iron. The rhythm and structure of the music, combined with our flying feet and the cadence of our rising heartbeat works wonders on our effectiveness and endurance during exercise – allowing us to (literally) stay on track and maintain stamina when our mind is telling us to quit. I mean, have you ever turned down the gym because you forgot your headphones? Guilty.

 Another added benefit of taking your tunes and tours to the city streets? For myself, I’m only three months into my Toronto inhabitancy and although I’ve become very well-versed in my surroundings – even a longstanding Toronto resident can never know everything the city, or even their own neighbourhood, has to offer. So to be able to lace up, breathe in fresh air, get my heart rate soaring and find a stretch of green grass to call my own at the end – sounds like a little slice of heaven.

While I’m taking my continued discovery of Toronto on the road – jaunting through the whacky side streets of Kensington Market, breezing through the Queen’s Park paths or exploring the foliage-filled Rosedale neighbourhood – these are the songs that are going to keep me going, going and going. For longer.

Happy summer!

1. I Love You So – Jay-Z (sampling Cassius)

2. Mondo ’77 – Looper

3. Set It Off – Diplo

4. You’ll Find A Way – Santigold (Switch remix)

5. Strange Times – The Black Keys

6. Play Your Part Pt.1 – Girl Talk

7. Roman Reloaded – Nicki Minaj feat. Lil’ Wayne

8. Gifted – N.A.S.A. feat. Kanye West, Lykke Li and Santigold (Aston Shuffle remix)

9. How You Like Me Now? – The Heavy

10. I Love It – Icona Pop

 

*Image via

The Nuts: In Our Fest’ Best

After a happy, heartfelt opening from Tim Baker of Hey Rosetta! , the nuts made a bee-line to the MBNA stage to catch headliners, The Black Keys, belt it out and whip the crowd into a “Marry me , Dan” frenzy (ahem, @JessHuddles). It was a sopping expierence to say the least, but we are dedicated gals so we toughed out the rainstorm to howl along with the crowd and one of our favourite bands.

In honour of our first collective visit to Bluesfest this year, the nuts decided to seek inspiration from Kaylee’s post detailing couture from Coachella, in “Summer Festival Style“. We bent the rules a smidge, but here are a few of the nuts, donning their fest’ best:

The ripped, shorter than short, pocket peeking, Jean Shorts

Jess, looking like a true music maven, in neon-dripping fringe from Urban Outfitters and short jean shorts.

Inspired by Elin Kling (from Kay's post) I opted for a sheer black, sleeveless blouse from Aritzia and light wash jean shorts.

Kaylee, our resident stylist and inspiration for this post, decided on short-shorts paired with a floral print tie up.
The Little White Dress

Cat rocked a little white dress, floral printed with a sexy see-through back, from Aritzia

Stay tuned for more about our Bluesfest experience.  A big shout-out to Jess for her fantastic photography skills.

Keys Craze

Stepping into the shoes of the Nutshell’s music mama, I feel a bit intimidated to evaluate a  good jam as well as Miz Jess Huddleston can. That being said, I still feel a tug on my heart strings with the powerful riff of a guitar.  So I wanted to share with you(& with my fellow nuts) a song that is haunting, painful at times but most of all, beautiful.

The Black Keys have been on my playlist since September 2009 and I think it’s safe to say that this year, the musical duo have crept up and taken over the playlists of millions. I know that almost all of the nuts will be attending their performance at Bluesfest this year, along with many more of mi amigos.  There’s just something about Auerbach’s honest vocals, true and tried, that keep us coming back for more. The success of their latest album, “Brothers”, is a testament to their soaring popularity in 2010/2011.   Although I am fully on board the “Brothers” band wagon  ( because, let’s face it. . . it’s awesome), here is a track from their former album, “Attack & Release”, that instantly attacked me, shook me and released my love for this timeless band.

All You Ever Wanted by The Black Keys . .  Enjoy!