Vinyl Review: The Sheepdogs — 'Changing Colours'

Hailing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, The Sheepdogs have been around since 2006 and fall into the “classic rock” genre due to their simplistic playing style and use of traditional instruments. Their most recent album Changing Colours seems to be a nod to the rustic influences of music that is now considered Canadiana. There are nuances within the songs that are reminiscent of the classic harmonious riffs of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and the rugged sound of The Guess Who. The rusticity and influence from 70s Southern rock bands like The Allman Brothers is evident. Through this, speaking in terms of the blues history and its influence on Southern music — the bluesy aura comes through loud and clear. The album itself in vinyl form is aesthetically interesting. It has modern sensibilities to the design and layout of the cover, and yet draws retro inspiration by way of the style of colourizing photos. The floral element of the design is reminiscent of 60s and 70s patterns. Not to mention the photos of the members look like something out of a 70s Rolling Stone mag. The album itself is two LPs, but only three sides. Yes, only three sides. The third side is described as a separate “medley,” and where the fourth side would be is just a grooveless plane with “Do Not Play” cursively written on the label. I still don’t know how to feel about that. On one hand you wish for more songs, on the other hand it’s kinda cool and uncommon to see a blank vinyl side.

The songs themselves on the album are largely fun, and many also have an emotional draw into the songs. I was finding myself particularly feeling a certain way during "I’m Just Waiting for My Time," the last song from the second side, as well as "Run Baby Run" from the third side. Another stand-out song for me was "The Big Nowhere" from the first side. It had the 70s rock-jazz-fusion element that I am a sucker for. The style of the beat is particularly jazzy in a certain few songs, which is interesting. Even so, the vibe of the songs is consistent, and yet they are varied enough to hold interest throughout the entirety of the album. The third “medley” side of the album is more of the folk-country-rock style, which is so refreshing to hear new material in this fashion. Overall, the album itself is quite a treat to listen to. It’s upbeat, easygoing, and genuinely great for those reasons. It is definitely worth getting on vinyl despite the lack of fourth side. If you enjoy classic rock music, and feel like you cannot assimilate to modern sensibilities, this album is great to bridge the gap. It is like listening to old rock music that you have never heard, but incredibly fresh.

It can be viewed as both a weakness and a strength for The Sheepdogs that they are constantly compared to bands that have already been solid for so many decades. In my opinion, the genre is something that is so intense, and resonant for so many people that there is something intriguing about a band that is capable of keeping true to their sound, and are able to remain relevant in this state of the music industry where it seems like the only place for heavy blues rock bands and the like are throwback tours for bands who are long since aged, but their music is still in such high demand. This pattern of modern bands drawing inspiration from their forbearers is becoming a common theme, especially as certain groups become more solidified in their career such as King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, as well as the still emerging Greta Van Fleet. The popularity of classic style bands are making more of a comeback these days. Many of whom are deciding to omit the new technology that has been characteristic of modern music that spans many genres. I can’t decide if it stems from a craving for musical authenticity, or the general sphere of society seeming to parallel social issues from the 60s and 70s. Perhaps it is a symbiotic relationship between the two that creates the paradigm of inflection, and the desire to be in touch with humanity and nature in an analog way.