Indie powerpop favorites Sloan are set to release their brand new album The Double Cross in May. The title is a nod and a wink to their twentieth anniversary (XX = double cross), a feat that makes me tip my cap in respect…yet makes me feel old.
Our beloved northern neighbors have always sent us great music; Neil Young and The Guess Who were staples of my youth and consistently entertaining artists (Neil, of course, has a streak Cal Ripken would be proud of). But more recent faves like The Pursuit of Happiness and The Odds have not quite caught fire here despite making some of the most infectious and intelligent pop and rock music of their era – more on that tomorrow. Maybe Arcade Fire walking away with the Grammy is a good luck charm and a signal that musical awareness is hip again?
And Sloan is no different, falling firmly into that “how can they not be huge” category in the States. After album after album of great music – featuring the unusual balance of four solid singer/songwriters happily sharing the spotlight – Canadian fans have rightfully tossed out comparisons to the legends, right up to the holy grail of the Fab Four. Maybe hearing “Canada’s Beatles” has caused enough skepticism to scare people away, but this is one time when you should sidestep the hype and listen.
Get yer Sloan on.
I’m still buzzing over the thirty-track Never Hear The End Of It (these boys do have a sense of humor!), and albums like Twice Removed and One Chord To Another should be staples of anyone’s collection. So count me among the geeked. According to the press release, “the band will be celebrating all year long with special shows, an exclusive one-of-a-kind album artwork series and much more“, so stay tuned for some hopefully special events.
Go to their website and start with a free download of “Follow The Leader“.
Really…it’s ludicrous to consider that a band like Sloan can still be under anybody’s radar, but the complete lack of success here in America is absolutely mind-boggling. Like fellow Canadians The Odds, Sloan features well-constructed songs, lots of hooks, great vocals and a string of albums with songs that jump out of the speakers. But it’s as if we erected a sonic fence along the Canadian border…what little does get through fizzles quickly, at least in the mass media mindset, and it’s not as if Canada wants to get all pushy about it. Maybe they like keeping these bands to themselves, but there are some hardcore fans down here who can’t fly to Winnipeg or Vancouver or Toronto for live shows.
Hey Canada! We took Howie Mandel off your hands, how about a little help down here?
Parallel, perpendicular, who cares! Just PLAY IT...
Sloan: Parallel Play
I’m out of superlatives for these guys – “Canada’s Beatles” should have been sufficient – but here’s yet another stunner from four guys that undeservedly float under the radar here in the United States. Four singers (and more impressively, four songwriters) somehow finding enough space to satisfy their own creative urges. Yet even if working independently, when together to perform the songs live, it’s as if it was a total team effort all along. Guess that’s the best definition of band that I’ve heard in a while.
Song-wise, they’re all over the map, from the chunking Stooges guitar of “Emergency 911” to the Beach Boyshooks of “Witch’s Wand” to the Dylan-esque “Down In The Basement” (oh, those clever Canadians!). With kudos to Patrick Pentland‘s Oasis-sounding “Believe In Me”, I think the overall strength this time around is the pure pop knack of Jay Ferguson. “If I Could Change Your Mind”, “Cheap Champagne” and Witch’s Wand” are the probably three of the four best songs on the album.
Maybe the smorgasbord of Never Hear The End Of It kicked them into a higher gear, because the confidence, energy and assurance that radiates from these songs is something that’s been missing for a while. And maybe, finally, that gets them noticed in The Land Of The Free And The Home Of Bad Radio.
–> Click here for a live “Witches Wand” video
Filed under Music, Reviews