The Sheepdogs – The Sheepdogs

Every once in a while you get a chance to hear an album that takes you places.  The Sheepdogs debut salvo does that with remarkable form taking listeners to the early seventies.  They sound like The Doors meet Kansas.  It’s classic rock, but new.  The guitars have that vintage twang.  The vocals have that rock n’ roll resonance.  This is a band that a grown man can drink beer to… and a lot of us will, no doubt.

The album is 14 songs long and begs to be played on vinyl.  (Wanna hook us up?  It’s the kind of album that listeners can enjoy from start to finish.  While the sound is not redundant, it has a connected theme of that seventies American rock music.  Even the lead singer sounds a bit like Jim Morrison.

From the first song, “Laid Back” listeners are given a gift of sonic brilliance.  The song structure is not particularly “new” but it’s in its familiarity that I most enjoy the song.  It’s got a good rock feel with a Billy Joel style sing-a-long chorus.  It begs to be played at music festivals or by a bar full of drunks.  The lyrics are fundamentally about, unsurprisingly, not giving a damn.  How rock.  How roll.

“Feeling Good” has some real grit to it.  There are elements in the beginning of the track that sound almost like they could be from a Zeppelin album (all hail).  The minor-chords in the background with the majored melody line create a sound that feels just right.  “Feelin’ good… oh like I know I should.”  While I couldn’t pick up on anything specific, the song just might be about the use of a control substance.  Again, very rock and roll.

The track “Never Gonna Get My Love” has a bit of a country feel to it.  The vocals are quite different on this one, but it still has that seventies rock, especially the seemingly Queen-inspired high harmonies that jump in partway through.  As with the rest of the album, the harmonies on this track are really good.  It’s an interesting song that puts the pen in the hand of the “hard to get” lover, instead of the lovelorn.  In that sense it’s a nice juxtaposition on the typical rock jam.

“I Need Help” is a hard-hitting rock song that gets the album back on its rockin’ trajectory.  The funked up bass line makes the song.  In fact, it might be the best on the album.  The band does a great job of nailing the lines, both in terms of harmonies and guitar.  This is the kind of timeless rock music that deserves a ton of airplay.  The guitar solo puts listeners in the mind of good blues-inspired rock that seems to be sadly missing from the music landscape today.  The repetitive chorus, “I need help” is infinitely relatable.

“Sharp Sounds” comes right out like a Creedence Clearwater Revival tune.  I’d be surprised if they didn’t write this song to sound like John Fogerty.  The lead vocals even sound like the great lead man himself.  I’m not going to lie it’s pretty hard to hear the lyrics on this one, but it’s such a chill and awesome song I don’t really care.  It NEEDS to be on the roadtrip mix of 2012… if you know anyone that still makes mixtapes… or goes on roadtrips.

I could write about every song on the album, but in the interest of brevity I’ll finish it up with coverage of “While We’re Young.”  It reminds me of the late-war Vietnam music by CCR among others.  It’s got that generational anthemic quality to it that’s really awesome.  It’s about a clash of opinions, seemingly between different generations, about how life should be lived.  The guitar break between the tough, serious lyrics, makes for a fantastic overall rock jam.

This is an album to own for fans of classic rock.  It’s going to be a backyard bonfire hit for many listeners.  Oh, and Sheepdogs, I’m happy to spin that vinyl if you send it my way.

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