The Sheepdogs – “Future Nostalgia”, 4/5

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Album Art courtesy of Killbeat Music.

Honestly, I was a little apprehensive about reviewing this album at first. The band’s self-titled release of 2012, produced by drummer Patrick Carney of award-winning blues-rock revival duo The Black Keys, didn’t grab me at all. In fact, the fuzzed-out, muddy tones of tracks like “Feeling Good” and “Alright OK” just sounded like a rehash of Carney’s own band.

That being said, I’m glad I set my worries aside and gave Future Nostalgia a listen. From the moment the album’s opening track “I’m Gonna Be Myself” hit my ears, any preconceived worries I had about this album repeating its predecessor were crushed beneath bright, ringing chords, a soaring Hammond organ, and the band’s signature harmonized guitar leads. All of these cohesive elements form the perfect musical lovechild between Thin Lizzy and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a wonderful way to begin an album.

Perhaps it was frontman Ewan Currie’s decision to produce the album himself alongside engineer Matt Ross-Sprang, or perhaps the group’s new Winnipeg-born lead guitarist Rusty Matyas brought the pop sensibilities of his old band Imaginary Cities into the mix. Either way, the band has created an album full of brighter, catchier songs that forsake none of the bluesy rock and roll credibility built over the band’s nine-year career.

If you’re one of the many who did like the band’s last effort, fear not. There are still plenty of swampy, sleazy numbers on Future Nostalgia guaranteed to please any blues-rock revivalist. “Back Down” and “Help Us All” stick to this dynamic, with considerable riffy flair (it’s The Sheepdogs, after all). With the new album’s brighter production and renewed emphasis on tight, catchy song arrangements, I like these songs too.

In short: if you’re already a fan of The Sheepdogs, you won’t be disappointed. If you couldn’t really get into their last release, give this one a try. If you’ve never heard these guys, but you’ve got a penchant for classic rock crossbred with Band of Horses and The Black Keys, what are you waiting for?