XX marks the spot!
The Sloan XX video series kicks off with this exclusive track-by-track peek at Sloan’s 10th album, The Double Cross. “Canada’s Beatles” are back with what surely will rank as one of their best efforts, and it’s reassuring to see that a band that released ten albums in twenty years is still on point.
Video: The XX Trailer
Keep an eye peeled for more videos leading up to the May 10th release date.
Preorder the album from the USA or Canada.
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As I mentioned in yesterday’s Sloan blurb, two of my favorite bands are among the most underrated and unknown in rock, at least here in the United States. In their native Canada, of course, they are national treasures and further proof that while America is all too eager to pilfer their artists, sometimes our neighbors to the north know best.
The Pursuit of Happiness had a huge college radio hit with “I’m An Adult Now“, but most people never heard from them again, and even some of their own fans were unaware of the last two albums until after the band broke up. And while I hoped that “Someone Who’s Cool” would finally break The Odds far and wide, it merely buzzed a few radios for a couple of months. Every time either band released an album I would be convinced that radio would finally catch on, and every time I was left sadly disappointed…for them. Selfishly, I’m the beneficiary of their catalogue; a group of great albums I enjoy over and over again.
After saving the 90s for me, both bands sadly folded but members have gone on to other projects; The Odds recently reformed and made another great record and hopefully will keep going. So get out your maple leaf and rock, here are Ten Oh Canada Tunes to brighten your day…if you don’t already know and love these bands you are in for a real treat.
(01) – The Odds: Someone Who’s Cool
(02) – TPOH: I’m An Adult Now
(03) – The Odds: It Falls Apart
(04) – TPOH: She’s So Young
(05) – The Odds: I Would Be Your Man
(06) – TPOH: Hard To Laugh
(07) – The Odds: Heterosexual Man
(08) – TPOH: Cigarette Dangles
(09) – The Odds: Fingerprints
(10) – TPOH: Young And In Love
Yes, I placed The Odds on the odd numbers on purpose.
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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“.
Sometimes you just need to rock.
Headslide is yet another band project that features Jeff Shelton, best known for his work with power poppers The Well Wishers and The Spinning Jennies. And while both those bands occasionally packed a little more punch than their contemporaries, Headslide adds a lot more crunch to the mix. It’s no accident that the cover image is a four-speaker tube amp.
Listen to clips on Amazon or MySpace
Singer Scott Haney takes the lead here, writing all but one track and topping the mix with chunking rhythm guitar. The songs are short and punchy, instantly toe-tapping. My favorites are heavy-sounding “There Are Monsters” and the clever “MyNumber One” (which refers to both his desired relationship status and a hit single).
Like all of Shelton’s bands, there are echoes of classic rock and powerpop ringers like Cheap Trick, The Who, Superdrag, The Pixies, Supergrass, The Kinks and Sloan. “Figure It Out”, his sole contribution to the set list, is all that in a nutshell.
Watch The Video: “Figure It Out”
A simple two-guitar, bass, drum lineup never gets old; here we have barroom rock in all its glory – pounding 4/4 beats, tight harmonies and short but stinging guitar solos. Headslide has only seven tracks but none are wasted; it’s also available at a very reasonable price. Visit their website for lists of (mostly West Coast) gigs and more information.
Listen to The Well Wishers and Spinning Jennies too!
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Really, really fab!
Your collection, if like mine, contains several hidden gems that even you forget about over time. But when you stumble across them years later, you immediately know why you were hooked in the first place. With so many bands springing up in the post-Beatle era and beyond, how could you know about them all? Some incredibly talented ones never got too far outside of their zip code for one reason or another, but we all know there are diamonds in that rough…
One such band was The Raves, from Atlanta. Years after its release. their album Past Perfect Tense is still a sixteen-track breath of fresh air. Here’s what I wrote for TransAction a dozen years ago…
My God, two of them even *look* like John and Paul! This collection of Beatle-esque pop from the 1980s proves that along with The Flashcubes and The Toms there were many other great bands that didn’t get their due. Chuck, John and Jim Yoakum handled the guitar-bass-drums axis while Ken Kennedy added some flash lead guitar. Although the production immediately screams “local band”, the songs don’t – they’re pure New Wave pop.
“Any Way You Can”, “Every Little Bit Hurts” and “Make Up Your Mind” are just three of the sixteen tracks that you can play in tandem with bands like Artful Dodger, The Jags and The Sinceros. “Tonight It’s Going To Be Great” is The Records via Buddy Holly and you’ll like the Elvis Costello nod on the intro to “Chastity”. Four guys weaned on classic pop rock who decided to make some of their own.
Go ahead – drop a few more names. The Rubinoos. Dwight Twilley. Sloan. Everly Brothers. Name any melodic or powerpop band you want…if you like them, you’ll like this. I have no idea what happened to the band after this – a very common tale – although Chuck did work with the late Graham Chapman of Monty Python.
But do try and track down this hard to find little gem – you will be richly rewarded.
The Raves at AllMusic.com
A couple of YouTube videos courtesy The Yoakum Channel.
An old interview at Bubblegum The Punk
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
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