Each week, Essentials allows Canadian musicians to share the things that have helped get through through the pandemic, and why they still can’t live without them.
In 2014, when Ewan and Shamus Currie decided to take some time away from their main gig, The Sheepdogs, and indulge in a little musical experimentation under the banner BROS, little did they know that the ensuing Vol. 1 album would establish an entirely new identity for them.
Given Vol. 1’s success, it seemed only natural for the Curries to throw another musical party that all would be welcome to attend. That, in a nutshell, is BROS Vol. 2—set for release July 16 on Dine Alone Records—13 new tracks that run the gamut from Tropicalia and smooth jazz to funky, cop drama-inspired jams and vintage AM radio pop.
The Curries felt the time was right for another BROS project after The Sheepdogs completed touring in support of their 2018 album Changing Colours, and Ewan’s first solo album Out Of My Mind was released the following year. But although the same core crew worked primarily at producer/engineer Thomas D’Arcy’s Toronto studio Taurus Recording, the Curries chose to take their time in order to give each song a unique quality, leading to a host of musicians being called in to put down specific parts. They even invited their father Neil Currie, an accomplished musician in his own right, to play some piano, marking the first time they’d ever recorded together.
As rock and roll scholars, the Curries know full well that it’s not often the best idea for brothers to be in the same band, and indeed the Saskatoon natives actually didn’t start making music together until adulthood when Ewan asked Shamus to become The Sheepdogs’ keyboardist.
But needless to say, their creative bond has strengthened dramatically since then. And although it wasn’t their intention, BROS Vol. 2 has all the makings of the ideal album with which to celebrate the end of the pandemic—the soundtrack to joyous nights of simply being out in the world again.
Ewan: Xavier Cugat & His Orchestra, Cugi’s Cocktails (Mercury, 1963)
This is exotica magic from one of the genre’s masters. I like to party in my backyard to this record or leave it on for my dog when I go out.
Shamus: Ghetto Brothers, Girl From The Mountain (from Power-Fuerza, Salsa Records, 1972)
This tasty jam is a blend of power pop and Latin rock recorded by a real New York City gang.
Ewan: Sam Anderson, Boom Town (Crown, 2018)
I really enjoyed this history of Oklahoma City from its founding to the present. The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook feature prominently.
Shamus: Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls (Scribner’s, 1940)
Hemingway spins a classic adventure tale of an American soldier fighting with Spanish partisans during the Spanish Civil War. If you’re looking for love, intrigue, classic portrayals of masculinity, and copious wine drinking, this novel has it all.
Ewan: Succession (HBO)
I guess you can sum it up as rich jerks behaving badly. But the ensemble cast brings to mind Arrested Development, only if it skewed meaner and was more serious. Terrific show.
Shamus: Jeopardy (Syndicated)
For me, it’s still the ultimate binge-watch and the greatest way to justify yelling at your TV while convincing yourself you’re “learning.”
Ewan: A Poem Is A Naked Person (2015)
This is a free-flowing documentary that follows Leon Russell in the early 1970s and captures some of the local colour and weirdos of his Tulsa hometown. I’d say it’s the best rock and roll documentary I’ve ever seen.
Shamus: True Lies (1994)
I’ve been revisiting the Schwarzenegger catalogue lately and this James Cameron directed piece is one of Arnie’s finer examples of over-the-top, mid-‘90s action excess. He’s fighting terrorists and saving the world from nuclear disaster, but really he’s just a guy trying to salvage his relationship with his wife. Relatable.