What can I say about this band? Could start with Sloan being the greatest export
So I took some time to review their catalog, focusing on studio albums, so apologies to Palais Royale, and A and B sides win. Here we go . . .
This bad boy I have on cassette. Chronologically it comes before Smeared but I think I bought this album third, probably after a concert. It has a garagey, raw vibe that is refined on Smeared. Marcus Said and Sugartune don’t change that much and listening to the stripped down version of Underwhelmed is a highlight of the album for me.
From the opening track to the last, this album gets it done, with scattered lyrics backed by yearning vocals and energetic instruments. This album, along with Definitely Maybe from Oasis, Day for Night from Tragically Hip and Superstar Carwash by Goo Goo Dolls, were very influential in my high school and early college years. My favorite tracks on the album are Underwhelmed, Take It In and Sugartune, (with a shout to the last song What’s There To Decide, which is dreamy, ethereal, and hypnotic), with all the tracks setting a foundation for the ground they were to cover over the years.
The moment I heard Pen Pals, I knew I was going to love this album. As much as I loved Smeared, this album went one better. Initially I was drawn to this album for the tracks Pen Pals and Deeper Than Beauty and Snowsuit Song, but the more I listened to it, the more I found the whole record to be one continuous soundtrack of awesomeness. On previous posts, I have complained about the lack of complete albums; not the case here. The guitar sound continues to grow (I could listen to the guitar riff at the end of Before I Do forever) and the drumming provides a constant, driving backdrop. Eventually my favorite of the song on the album became People Of the Sky, which encapsulates everything I love the band.
One Chord to Another
This is my second least favorite album. (English major, right?) The record starts off great with The Good in Everyone, and there are moments of quality in almost every song, but the songs themselves are not awesome. Example, Autobiography borrows from what sounds like old Aerosmith but the song tends to wander and finally just ends. Another example, the choruses of A Side Wins and Anyone Who’s Anyone are pretty catchy but the verses are just ok. Junior Panthers might be in the bottom five songs from the group for me. The experimentation is ok (piano, minimal production), but it really doesn’t do it for me. G Turns to D is a highlight for me, and I love the trumpets on Everything You’ve Done Wrong. Jay takes center stage on Lines you Amend, and you can’t help but sing along on the chorus from Take the Bench. Again, not saying it’s terrible but if I had to lose one Sloan album in a fire, this might be the one.
As with the previous album, this songs kicks ass right from the start with She Says What She Means (this song is great live), and Iggy and Angus (favorite of mine), with a
Between the Bridges
This album has a special place in my heart, because this is one of the CD’s I gave to my future wife on her year long trip to
This is my least favorite album, for while there are some good tracks, the album does not grab me from start to finish, lacking the punch of previous works. The first two tracks, If It Feels Good Do It and In the Movies really jam, but then the album trends towards the slower, more melodic tracks, and this vibe works for The Other Man, which has a great video, and Dreaming of You, instead of the power pop, punch you in the mouth tracks usually present. My favorite track is It’s In Your Eyes and is definitely in my Top 10, which again synthesizes the band’s qualities—solid drumming, catchy hooks and wonderful vocals. Listening to it again, I realized how unfamiliar I was with it. I gave it several tries but was less than convinced. You can’t win them all.
Action Pact has to be 1a for favorite albums. There are so many great tracks and the album really hits all the notes—pop, hard rock, ballad. Gimme That gets things started with straight ahead power pop and is followed in the same vein by Live On, which has MORE COWBELL, and Backstabbin’. The band takes it down a notch with The Rest of My Life. The opening tracks are decent but the rest of the album is almost pure gold, highlighted by False Alarm, Hollow Head, I Was Wrong, Reach Out and Fade Away (killer guitar solo halfway through the song). Honestly these songs could be my top 5 and crystallize the band’s sound. If you are new to the band, I highly recommend starting with this album.
Never Hear the End of It
With 30 tracks of varying length and sounds and qualities, it’s hard to zero in on this. I would love to hear a full length cut of the opening track, Flying High Again, which lasts only 1:25 and leads into Who Taught You to Live Like That. I first heard the song at a show at St. Andrew’s and loved it. Other highlights on the record are I’ve Gotta Try (another song with a great video), Listen to the Radio (less aggressive but wonderful vocals), Right or Wrong (with the great lyric—10 years ahead of our time or 1 year behind), Ana Lucia (which grew me on over time), Blackout (could use another 90 seconds on this one), Ill Placed Trust (rockin the house and probably my favorite track on the album), and Another Way I Could Do It (great guitar parts and great way to end the album). I usually skip through to the tracks I like, but if I really take the time to listen to it from start to finish, the experience is worth it for all of the different textures present.
To be honest, I have not listened to this album all that much. For whatever reason, it slipped through the cracks, but here we go. Believe in Me opens up the album, getting things started with pure power pop. Wrenching guitars, solid drum, and the vocal polish of Patrick. Cheap
Hit and Run EP
I heard this album for the first time while doing some research for this post and have to say I didn’t really enjoy these couple of songs. Overall, there is a much more subdued vibe for the tracks. The opening track Take It Upon Yourself isn’t too bad, but the next track Midnight Mass is kinda forgettable. It Is Never combines some distorted guitar with melodic piano to create a decent track. Where Are You Now? grabs the sound from Navy Blues and has some fun. Doesn’t hit the heights but is ok. Oh Dear Diary feels like an Eels cover. The lyrics are great with the line “it took me 20 pages to tell” and this song has to be on indie movie soon. Chances are I will not pony up for this album. Might buy It Is Never on iTunes or another source for posterity.
So here they are. My Top 8 Sloan songs (I just couldn’t get it down to 5) . . .
People of the Sky
Iggy and Angus
It’s In Your Eyes
I Was Wrong
Ill Placed Trust
I don’t listen to commercial radio anymore, but thank god for 89X in
1992 Peppermint EP
1994 Twice Removed
1996 One Chord to Another
1998 Navy Blues
1999 Between the Bridges
2001 Pretty Together
2003 Action Pact
2006 Never Hear the End of It
2008 Parallel Play
2009 Hit & Run EP