REVIEW: The Sheepdogs – Learn and Burn (2011 bonus tracks)

SHEEPDOGS AND LEBRAIN

Ewen, Leot, LeBrain, Sam & Ryan

THE SHEEPDOGS – Learn and Burn (2011 Warner reissue, originally 2010)

SHEEPDOGS_0002Like many of you, I first heard The Sheepdogs via the excellent single “I Don’t Know”, a rollicking journey through territory pioneered by The Guess Who and Neil Young. And what a cool Canadian success story, what with that Rolling Stone cover and all.

A few months after falling in love with “I Don’t Know”, I was invited to a private acoustic session with the Sheepdogs. There were about 40 people in the room tops, including myself and my co-worker Bart who was my “+ 1”. I remember them playing “How Late, How Long” and an older tune. They were great, friendly and gracious.  They did a short meet & greet after the show, and I appreciated it when Ewen said to me, “I really like your Beatles shirt.  That’s my favourite period of John Lennon.”  I told him I specifically picked that shirt because I hoped they’d dig it!  The beards, you know?

I’m going to coin a new genre here:  “Beard Rock”.

Before seeing the band, I bought the album based on “I Don’t Know”.  That was sometime in fall of 2010; I remember listening to it on a cold, cold night at the cottage.   My impressions?  It’s a really cool mellow rock album. It sounds as if it came right out of 1969. It sounds very authentic to the period, even sonically.  Very different from their current work with Patrick Carney of the Black Keys.  I am impressed. I really like it.  Admittedly though, it’s a bit too derivative.  SHEEPDOGS_0006

Highlights for me included:

  • “Please Don’t Lead Me On”, which was very Beatles-y.  It’s jaunty, I like it.
  • “I Don’t Get By” which has a very country (or even Led Zep III) vibe.
  • “Right On” and its fat saxophone solo.
  • “Southern Dreaming” which reminds me of the Allmans, CCR and The Band
  • “Soldier Boy”,  probably the most rocking song on the album.
  • “Catfish 2 Boogaloo” kind of reminds me of a laid back version of Cream.

And, the whole Medley. These four mini-songs all meld together seamlessly, but are distinct sections.  It’s a gimmick similar to Abbey Road side two, but in miniature form.

The only song that does nothing for me is the title track “Learn and Burn”. Not into the vocal hook at all. Sorry.  I also didn’t dig the lyric referencing “Facebook invitations”, it just doesn’t vibe with the vintage 1971 sound of the song.

The two bonus tracks on the remastered edition are “Birthday” and “Slim Pickens”.  Yes, I re-bought the album to get two more songs.  You knew I would.  “Birthday” is worth it, a lovely 60’s sounding pop rock tune, with twang and banjo.  I wasn’t expecting “Slim Pickens” to rock as hard as it does, but it does!  This is a smokin’ little electric guitar bluegrass boogie instrumental.

Good album though, and a band to watch. Their work with Patrick Carney on their 2012 self-titled record expanded on their sound.  I expect them to continue to grow.

3.5/5 stars

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34 comments

    1. Not so good morning. My grandma had a fall yesterday. Broke her leg, I think in multiple places. Surgery is scheduled for 9am. They will keep her for a week. So I’m just wired right now, I slept about 6 hours or so but I’m just waiting for the phone to ring now. Hoping I can see her later today.

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        1. K’s Nona turned 90 in May. She tore some ligament in a leg last week and she too is in rehab for the next three months. She has mobility issues too. Keep your grandma close. I have no grandparents any more, and miss my Granny everyday.

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        2. Will do.

          Since I’m full of nervous energy write now I’m just pouring it into writing…finished a two-parter last night that is a spin off from Musical Crimes of LeBrain.

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        3. Good for you! I have started several posts, but have been too tired to complete them. Work is kicking my ass this month. I am exhausted, frankly. But, enough about me. It only explains the lack of posts from my end…

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        4. LOL! I go in waves. 2 weeks of creativity, 2 weeks of no energy, and so on. What I’ve done is built up and maintained a backlog of content. When I’m not in a writing mood, I still take a few hours each week to proofread/edit/add pictures etc.

          Doing the pictures for the blog is a different kind of creativity and it doesn’t tax the same creative muscles that writing does. I find this balance works for me, and it has for a year or so now.

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        5. I said two posts a week, and here this week it will likely only be one. I gotta forgive myself because I just have too much happening in my professional life. I am still gaming and all, just not writing. Hey, I email over 40 individual students every day. I think I get burned out on writing by the end of the day.

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        6. Absolutely! That’s serious work and requires mental energy!

          Holding to a posts-per-timeperiod quota is hard. I used to want to do 2 a day (!!!!) and I kept that up for months! I cut back to 1 a day but that too will eventually have to reduce. I’ve been recycling old reviews into the new reviews but even that well is now running dry. I don’t have many old ones left that I want to use.

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        7. I have thought of reporting older reviews, complete with new screenshots and stylings where hardly anyone read them back in the day. Some of them are pretty funny! But I was a newbie blogger back then. I also have blogposts I would like to port from my defunct blog on knitting and other things.

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  1. I liked this post, but I have still not forgiven them for being assholes to the town that started them (and for no good reason). I doubt I’d buy an album of theirs, but power to them on their journey.

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      1. They started in Saskatoon and they win that contest to have a Rolling Stone cover and in their write-up it’s basically called a sh*t-hole, full of seedy bars and drunken native people and not much else. And the band added their own crap to it, it was just a terrible article all around. All I could think was shame on Rolling Stone for printing that stuff.

        http://blogs.leaderpost.com/2011/08/20/rollingstone-writer-calls-first-nations-alcoholic-members-in-sheepdogs-story/?__federated=1

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