I like Rolling Stone magazine. I've taken to this very blog to extol its virtues in the past. I might have even called it my high-school crush at one point. But these days, boyfriend, I'm not feeling the love so much.
In a reader-voted contest, Canadian rockers The Sheepdogs beat out 15 other competitors to become the first unsigned band on the cover of Rolling Stone. (Rolling Stone/Associated Press)
Chosen by RS readers, the 'Dogs got to be on the magazine's current cover, perform at the Bonnaroo Festival and -- most significantly for their careers -- sign with Atlantic Records. The antithesis of skinny boys in skinny pants playing minimalist basslines, The Sheepdogs have long hair, big beards and bell-bottoms straight out of an Allman Brother's closet. The band's sound is also throwback -- a combo of '70s swirling guitar licks and lush vocals à la Southern stoner rock bands like the Black Crowes.
I think that wild, uncool authenticity was precisely why these guys won over 1.5 million voters: there is something in the big sound, big hair and big harmonies you can sink your teeth into. It's somehow comforting in these times of uncertain economy and overused Autotune.
Another aspect of The Sheepdogs' story made them the perfect winners: they're not from Toronto or Montreal, but the unlikely musical Mecca of Saskatoon. Rolling Stone seemed to like that geographic tidbit just a little too much.
At an airport a few days ago, I was thrilled to pick up the issue fronted with a slick picture of The Sheepdogs and banner reading "Canada Beats US in Battle of Bands" (Oooh, how it made my little Cancon heart beat!).
But inside, my patriotic fervor turned to indignation as I read the cover story by contributing editor Austin Scaggs. To say the piece was bursting with Canadian clichés would be like saying Lady Gaga is a slightly offbeat dresser.
'Welcome to Saskatchewan -- the writer seems to say -- a land of hopeless, incomprehensible drunks with no musical talent.' -- Deana Sumanac
Over a four-page article, Scaggs follows the band to what he paints as the charmless backwater from which they sprang. His task is made difficult by guitarist Leot Hanson's "Saskatchewan accent so thick you sometimes can't understand what he's saying." The adventure the band takes him on seems to inspire such revulsion for this backwards locale that you can imagine the writer seeking a tetanus shot upon return to his New York office.
And it gets worse. The Sheepdogs take him to a bar that's akin to "a sex farm for blithering drunks." From inside, "toothless degenerates, binge-drinking collegians and alcoholic members of the First Nations" fall out.
Just when I'm hearing the tune from Deliverance in my head, Scaggs meets me there. Yep, outside another bar, a guy is playing that theme on his banjo. It's apparently nothing compared to the awful-sounding locals testing their luck at an open mic night, nor the sound of the "awful yet extremely popular Canadian band The Tragically Hip" emanating from the bar.
Welcome to Saskatchewan -- he appears to say -- a land of hopeless, incomprehensible drunks with no musical talent.
The band's quotes and behaviour don't exactly help. Sheepdogs lead singer Ewan Currie is depicted either in pursuit of weed, retelling weed-related stories or high as a kite for the entire article. Another band member describes Saskatoon as "big enough where you can have sex with a girl and, if you're lucky, not see her again for three weeks."
No doubt these guys are not Leonard Cohen and I'm not saying they should be. I understand that the band's un-PC behaviour is precisely the image the members have chosen -- and the one Rolling Stone has chosen to perpetuate: throwbacks in sound, throwbacks in attitude. You could easily picture Keith Moon partying with these dudes.
I'm not accusing Scaggs of being less than truthful in his representation, but the tone he presents is mean-spirited and hurtful -- especially to all those, particularly from Saskatoon, who so proudly took to the internet to vote in The Sheepdogs.
For the love of Saskatoon-raised Joni Mitchell, how could the sound 1.5 million people championed come from a place apparently so unworthy of respect? How could a country that provided Rolling Stone such diverse musical darlings as Feist, Nelly Furtado and Drake be so worthy of ridicule?
Am I being overly sensitive? What do you think?
More entries for category: Social Media
About the Author
Other The Buzz Entries
About the Authors
- 2012 (139)
- November (5)
- South Park takes aim at Lance Armstrong
- The Walking Dead of the publishing world
- FILM REVIEW: The Paperboy
- Canadian ingenuity on YouTube
- FILM REVIEW: Stories We Tell
- FILM REVIEW: Argo
- Sarah Brightman and Chris Hadfield: Musicians in space
- Welcome to my McCartney years
- Rush and the long road to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Jack White and the restless folks at Radio City
- Why J.K. Rowling can't lose with The Casual Vacancy
- FILM REVIEW: The Master
- Syrian filmmaker Orwa Nyrabia says thanks after being freed
- TIFF movies that shone the brightest
- Blackbird, Caught in the Web explore risks of online expression
- Malaysian writers make their mark
- Meet the CCMA Rising Star contenders
- 13 buzz films unspooling at TIFF
- 7 films where the bike is king
- Let's hear it for the girls
- FRIDAY FILM BITES: Farewell My Queen, Hit and Run, Killer Joe
- Short and punchy - the brave new world of e-books
- FILM REVIEW: ParaNorman
- FILM REVIEW: The Expendables 2
- Bin Laden, Lincoln films work around U.S. election
- Is Drake planning an Aaliyah album without her family's blessing?
- Cultural Olympiad tries to dovetail with sport
- Maeve Binchy: An appreciation
- Alanis Morissette takes wing in new video Guardian
- FILM REVIEW: The Watch
- FILM REVIEW: Step Up: Revolution
- Twitter experiment celebrates Tom Thomson online
- FILM REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises
- FILM REVIEW: Beasts of the Southern Wild
- 5 unforgettable Rolling Stones gigs
- Cookie Monster covers Call Me, Maybe
- FILM REVIEW: To Rome with Love
- FILM REVIEW: Take This Waltz
- FILM REVIEW: Magic Mike
- Muse joins Olympics song canon
- Nora Ephron: a laugh at life's curveballs
- The cure for Game of Thrones withdrawal
- FILM REVIEW: Brave
- Rockstar Hotel bangs to '80s beat in Toronto
- FILM REVIEW: Rock of Ages
- Dallas returns to high expectations from viewers
- Bonnaroo: a musical education
- Tweeting Tom Thomson
- Madonna's cheeky Born This Way poke at Lady Gaga
- FILM REVIEW: Men in Black 3
- Queen Victoria's journals go online
- Whitney Houston's final song Celebrate debuts
- FILM REVIEW: The Dictator vs Bernie
- The trouble with Mrs. Eastwood and Company
- Young cancer patients enchant with Stronger lip dub
- FILM REVIEW: Dark Shadows
- Memories of Maurice Sendak's Really Rosie
- FILM REVIEWS: The Raven, The Five-Year Engagement
- Cirque's Amaluna needs a little more polish
- 5 Hot Docs films to whet your appetite
- Lindsay Lohan hitches star to Liz Taylor biopic
- FILM REVIEWS: The Lucky One, Damsels in Distress, Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope
- Reaction to Pulitzer's fiction snub
- Breakfast with Coachella
- Phish answers the call for 'more cowbell'
- FILM REVIEWS: The Three Stooges, The Raid: Redemption
- The Hunger Games on the hunt for new director
- FABLE FIGHT: Mirror Mirror vs. Wrath of the Titans
- Hot in Cleveland heads to Ontario
- Jessica Paré turns chanteuse for Mad Men
- FILM REVIEW: Footnote
- FILM REVIEW: The Hunger Games
- Navigating Canadian Music Week: Day 1
- Inside Ai Weiwei's world
- Sugar Shack cuisine from Quebec's Martin Picard
- Bill Roache on Corrie Street and the great beyond
- FILM REVIEW: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey
- 5 memorable Oscar moments
- What not to do with an Oscar
- Assessing Oscar's actress and supporting actress races
- Couch potatoes triumph with Simpsons marathon
- Glee's 'unintentional' tribute to Whitney Houston
- The long shadow over Chris Brown's Grammy win
- Romance onscreen for Valentine's Day
- Spider-Man trailer: fresh take or more of the same?
- FILM REVIEW: The Woman in Black
- FILM REVIEW: Miss Bala
- Jack White goes solo
- Set course for Calgary, host of ST: TNG reunion
- FILM REVIEWS: Man on a Ledge, One for the Money, The Grey
- A first listen of Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas
- FILM REVIEW: Haywire and Red Tails
- FILM REVIEW: A Separation
- The Artist's silence isn't golden for some moviegoers
- Hello. Are these the films you're looking for?
- FILM REVIEWS | Contraband, Beauty and the Beast 3D and Pariah
- FILM REVIEW: A Dangerous Method