BeatRoute Magazine is a monthly arts and entertainment paper with a predominant focus on music – local, independent or otherwise. The paper started in June 2004 and continues to provide a healthy dose of perversity while exercising rock ‘n’ roll ethics.
THE SHEEPDOGS exploring multiple shades of rock ‘n’ roll The Sheepdogs released ‘Changing Colors’ on February 2. Damn near everyone can croon the iconic Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers line: “The way—eh—ting is the hardest part” (emphasis on the waiting… and waiting). The adage runs true in the classic rock track as it does in life. Just ask The Sheepdogs’ front man Ewan Currie. Their new record ‘Changing Colors’ finally dropped on February 2, and according to him, it’s about time. “Truthfully, it’s like ‘Get the damn thing out already.’ It’s been done for a while and we just want people to hear it,” he says. Although it’s only been three years since their previous offering ‘Future Nostalgia,’ he’s excited for the changes the band implemented. “It’s because we’re excited about it. I always loved when a band would make a big, sort of sprawling album with all kinds of stuff you can sink your teeth into, so that’s kind of what we did. I hope people dig it and I think they will.” ‘Changing Colors’ isn’t so much a departure from the band’s pleasant brand of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll as it is an addition, incorporating smooth pedal steel hooks, groovy horns, funky bass lines, and other unique sounds. Did BROS (Currie’s side project with his brother and Sheepdogs keyboardist Shamus) influence the sound of ‘Changing Colors’? “I think it did to some degree. We made it in the same place where we made our BROS. record,” Currie responds. “And I think what that BROS. project did was expand our palette and open our minds a little more to different sounds and different BY TREVOR MORELLI ways of doing things.” Another layer on ‘Changing Colors’ is the addition of multi-instrumentalist Jim Bowkill, who joined the band in 2015. Currie believes Bowskill adds a texture to The Sheepdogs’ sound that elevates them to another level. “He actually helped me write a couple of songs straight up so that was pretty huge,” Currie remarks. “He’s a crazy talented, amazing guitar player. He’s also a very good singer. He sings a lot of backups and stuff. He’s also a really tremendous pedal steel player. He’s a fiddle player and plays mandolin. We really wanted to take advantage of those instruments.” Bowskill’s luscious pedal steel playing can be heard on mellower tracks like “Let it Roll”, while Currie and the boys crank up the guitars for a rollicking good time on first single “I’ve Got a Hole Where My Heart Should Be”. Without question, Currie and The Sheepdogs’ hearts will be into every show on the band’s upcoming Canadian tour. They’re glad to be out touring the country even though the weather was less than favorable for the first month of the year. “It’s a great time to tour Canada. Summertime is the time when everyone’s taking off. I think it’s actually the best time. It helps that we’ve got a tour bus we’ll be on.” Catch the Sheepdogs performing Tuesday, Feb. 20 at Union Hall (Edmonton), Wednesday, Feb. 21 at The Palace Theatre (Calgary), Thursday, Feb. 22 at Cadillac Hall (Cadillac), Friday, Feb. 23 at O’Brian’s Even Centre (Saskatoon) and Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Burton Cumming’s Theatre THE HEIRLOOMS avoiding genre traps and keeping momentum Seeking to create something honest, something reflective of internal struggles and the satisfaction of overcoming them, Calgary indie-psych-rockers The Heirlooms are on the verge of releasing their latest single, a teaser of their new album to come in 2018. The four-piece, fronted by Kat Westermann, have released three albums, each building upon their mellow, rainy day vibes while incorporating something new. Clean guitar riffs rise around subtle drum beats and lilting keyboard melodies to create a soundscape conducive to moonlit drives and introspective contemplation of the sunrise. At times, though, the pace picks up and leads to something more upbeat; like a folk anthem begging the listener to enjoy life despite the ups and downs. “I think all of us really just want every song to be somewhat different, and that leads us to having quite the diverse set list to play in terms of having different emotive qualities for different crowds and different places,” Westermann remarks. “In that way, it’s kind of nice that we’ve avoided falling into one particular genre or another.” In the first week of March, The Heirlooms will be releasing a brand new single which they have been working on throughout the winter. The track (or tracks, as it may be) is Calgary psych-rock group drops single and hints at album. BY JODI BRAK going to be a glimpse into their latest full length release which is planned for release later in the year. “One of the songs we will be recording we actually just wrote about a week ago!” Westermann says, “it just felt like it was way too good to not record right away, we were all quite excited about it.” “The first one we are recording is called “Feel This Out,” and it’s a really fun sounding song, but the lyrics are actually about having horrible social anxiety,” she says, with a bit of a chuckle. “It centres around how sometimes what you say and what you feel in a situation kind of contradict each other. The other one is called “Hear Me Now,” and it’s about coming out of a funk… How coming out of that period of introspection can actually make you stronger. It’s a very fun, beachy type of song. It’s super groovy, and there is a drum solo!” These new singles will be the first releases from The Heirlooms to feature some new instrumentation they are experimenting with, namely organs and more pronounced keys and piano interspersed throughout the songs. Catch The Heirlooms on Saturday, Feb. 24 at The Ironwood Stage (Calgary), and stay tuned to their Facebook page for their newest single release on Friday, Mar. 2, along with a show at The Palomino (Calgary) 22 | FEBRUARY 2018 • BEATROUTE ROCKPILE
54-40 Canadian greats keep on walkin’ and rockin’ Over the last few years, CanCon rockers 54•40 have revealed a more intimate side of themselves through acoustic shows, which feature their classic hits reimagined with expanded yet familiar arrangements. Regardless of whether it’s one of these up-close-and-personal theater shows or a more traditional rock show, the band is excited to just get up and play for people, even after nearly four decades as a band. “Well, we want to do both,” says bassist Brad Merritt with a chuckle. 54•40 has blended many different styles into their impressive catalogue spanning eleven studio albums. “One Day in Your Life” starts with concise country-style finger picking before exploding into a catchy chorus, while “Since When” employs ‘70s keyboards to get your head nodding to its infectious pop rhythm. The reimagined versions on ‘La Difference: A History Unplugged’ (2016) integrate violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin and more. “We want to do it all. We’ve been at this for 37 years and we’re still ambitious. What it comes down to is we love it. It’s kind of a natural variety for us, and it feels good. It’s like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes or something.” Merritt says the smaller venues and close atmosphere took some getting used to, but now the band is glad they have the option to do either acoustic or electric gigs. “It took us a little while to sort of adapt and do these acoustic performances. You’re kind of laid bare, you’re out there quite GOOD RIDDANCE hitting up Alberta for the fans Reunited Going on in 36 the years pursuit as a of staple punk of rock Canadian thrills music. ROCKPILE BY TREVOR MORELLI naked, exposed. There’s a lot of space, and so it’s more of an intimate kind of experience, not just for the audience, but for us as well.” In the beginning, it took a lot of long days on the road for 54•40 to make a name for themselves but now they’re in a place where they can be themselves and choose the gigs they want to play. “There was one tour where we did four shows in Missouri, if you can believe that,” recalls Merritt. “You probably can’t name four cities in Missouri. Last year we did 42. And that’s kind of a nice number for us. So once again we kind of say yes to some things and others we say ‘Maybe we’ll take a pass for now.’” He adds: “And I don’t take that for granted. It’s a nice place to be.” On January 26, the band released a new album dubbed ‘Keep on Walkin’. The album demonstrates that the band is absorbing the diverse instrumentation style of their ‘La Difference’ recording and live experience, incorporating more sounds and styles into Santa Cruz punk group Good Riddance are heading north for a few select shows this February. Known for their infectious mix of melodic, hardcore punk rock punctuated by politically and socially conscious lyrics, Good Riddance’s sound sound is rooted in fast, up-beat tempos, heavy riffs and drums, tied together with harmonic vocals. Although they disbanded in 2007, it was only a short while later in 2012 that they reunited for what many thought would only be a handful of shows. Six years later, they’re still at it. “Yeah, we had no idea we’d still be doing this, [in 2012] we decided to practice and see how that felt, and that was a lot of fun. So, we decided to play a show. And it’s kinda been like that ever since, just not making any long-term plans. There’s not really any career arc anymore. There’s no we gotta do this and we gotta do that, now it’s more that we enjoy it,” explains vocalist Russ Rankin, who helped form the band way back in 1986. “We all realize that we’re incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity, even in the limited capacity that we have now. We’re doing it because our fans are so awesome. The response that we’ve gotten since we started playing shows again, that’s what’s cemented their music than ever before to bouncy, pop infused results. Merritt says a full-blown electric Canadian tour in support of the record should be coming in the fall; meanwhile, the soon to occur tour is unplugged. Catch 54•40 live and on stage Wednesday, Feb. 14 at the Bert Church Theatre (Airdrie), Thursday, Feb. 15 at Bo’s Bar and Grill (Red Deer). BY SARAH MAC for us that we made the right decision.” In 2015, Good Riddance released their eighth full-length album, ‘Peace in Our Time.’ With their new slower pace, a new album seemed an option, though unlikely. “I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility. But, back in the day, that was our job and all we did. Now, we’re taking it a day at a time and enjoying it. But, as a band who is used to getting together and throwing ideas at each other, at some point we need to play new music. We aspire to be creative and have new stuff to play. So, it wouldn’t really surprise me at all if there was something new. And if there is, we’ll embrace it and see where it goes.” Regardless of when new music may or may not arrive, let’s focus on the present – we get to see them live. Let’s not take it for granted, Alberta! “There’s been a lot of people in Alberta that have been wanting us to come back for a while, so we’re pretty stoked for these shows.” Good Riddance performs on Friday, Feb. 2d at the Forge (Edmonton), Saturday, Feb. 24 at Dicken’s Pub (Calgary) and Sunday, Feb. 25 at Wild Bill’s (Banff). BEATROUTE • FEBRUARY 2018 | 23