After six years of touring their local Saskatchewan scene with their old-school brand of Southern boogie rock, hirsute Canadian four-piece the Sheepdogs got their big break when they won Rolling Stone's Do You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star competition, becoming the first unsigned act to appear on the magazine's front cover in the process. While it's difficult to begrudge their chance at the limelight, their first release since their victory, the five-track EP Five Easy Pieces, makes you question the quality of the other competitors. There's nothing particularly wrong with their '70s revival schtick, which unapologetically embraces the sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Allman Brothers, and Lynryd Skynyrd, but there's also nothing particularly notable about it either.
While the barroom blues of "How Late, How Long," the three-part harmonies of the country-tinged "I Don't Know" (which previously appeared on 2010's independently released Learn & Burn), and the harder-edged psychedelic "Learn My Lesson" are all convincing retro-rock pastiches, it's quite disconcerting that the voters of the legendary music publication believed that a band so derivative should represent the 2011 rock & roll scene. Frontman Ewan Currie possesses a fine blue-eyed soul vocal, which is best showcased on the honky tonk Hall & Oates-esque soft rock of "The Middle Road," the only time the EP deviates from its well-worn formula, while the tight musicianship proves that the bandmembers are certainly ready to live the dream. But while Five Easy Pieces is undeniably a feel-good nostalgic affair, it's unlikely to sustain their current momentum.
|Who? / Ewan Currie||The Sheepdogs||3:50|
|I Don't Know / Ewan Currie||The Sheepdogs||3:10|
|The Middle Road / Ewan Currie||The Sheepdogs||2:46|
|Learn My Lesson / Ewan Currie||The Sheepdogs||3:38|
|How Late, How Long / Ewan Currie||The Sheepdogs||4:07|