(Dine Alone Records)

The Sheepdogs’ Southern-Fried Rock styling may be a throw-back to the vintage sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet and the Allman Brothers yet there is no doubt that their previous two records have sparked a new live-rock renaissance that has also been picked up by the likes of Hamilton’s Monster Truck, Kelowna’s Wild!, or even fledgling rockers like Glorious Sons or One Bad Son.

Yes there was a lot of media speculation whether The Pride of Saskatoon could live up to the hype generated by their infamous Rolling Stone 2011 cover story. But even thought their follow-up self-titled Atlantic Records’ release, produced by Black Keys’ drummer, Patrick Carney, may have been a little constrained, the band has cast aside those shackles, re-grouped at a cabin in Stony Lake Ontario, and with vocalist/guitarist Ewan Currie taking charge of production duties, have released an ambitious 18-track recording which can only cement their status in the forefront of Canada’s rock hierarchy. The band’s basic ingredients are simple enough; addictive vocal hooks and tasty guitar arrangements anchored by a solid bass/drums bottom end and infused with some spicy keyboard fills. Yet the fact they were creative enough to produce 18 tracks shows they have improvised on their basic southern rock styling to show other attributes in their armour.SheepdogsPress2015PhotoCreditMattBarnes

Tracks like the fiery “Gonna Be Myself”,  “Really Wanna Be Your Man” and the infectious “Back Down” continue the rock standards set by their previous two albums; 2010’s Learn & Burn and their 2012, self-titled release yet the band shows enough confidence here to also tackle an instrumental ode to former boxing champ “Jim Sullivan”, their controversial “Darryl & Dwight”, sexual identity message is a real eye-opener and their rendition of “Same Old Feeling” has The Band’s influence stamped all over it.

With new guitarist Rusty Matyas replacing Leot Hanson and Currie’s younger brother Seamus, now a full-fledged member on keyboards (and trombone on “Help Us All”) melding nicely with veteran bassist Ryan Gullen and drummer Sam Corbitt, the contents of Future Nostalgia reflects on a band full of confidence and creativity. “Downtown” is a solid enough debut single and “Where I Can Roam” is a colorful, autobiographical piece which anchors the record’s final six-track medley that outro’s with an reprise of “Where I Roam” which captures in the band in a full blast instrumental  free-for-all. Definitely one of THE record releases of 2015.

Download: “Back Down”, “Same Old Feeling”, ‘Downtown” “Gonna Be Myself”

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