Category: Sloan

Sloan – Navy Blues

ARTIST: Sloan

220px-Sloan_Navy_Blues

 

TITLE:  Navy Blues

YEAR RELEASED: 1998

CHART ACTION: #5 in Canada

SINGLES: Money City Maniacs (#7 Canada, #4 Canada Alternative), See Says What She Means (#21 Canada Alternative), Keep on Thinkin’ (#85 Canada)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not here, eh?

LINEUP: Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, Jay Ferguson, Andrew Scott

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A bit more hard rocking record from the Canadians, as if they inhaled the faster late-period Beatles songs and re-arranged them in their own way.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thanks to a pizza commercial, some fine power poppin’, and bass line inspired by AC/DC, Sloan hit a commercial peak in Canada with “Money City Maniacs”, a quintessential power pop song if there was ever one. Yet that’s not the only fine, inspired track here.

Cut after cut showcases the bands gifts of melody, arrangement, and harmony. Most of the time, the band hits the mark, but “Chester the Molester” is cringe worthy lyrically even if it’s done lightheartedly (that may make it worse).

Skip that track, and enjoy the rest, especially reveling in how the album starts off with “She Says What She Means”.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The opening track, “She Says What She Means’ was the last track recorded  and only written by Chris Murphy as an answer to the other rockin’ songs penned by Patrick Pentland.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: In Japan

 GRADE: A-: Downgrading for “Chester the Molester”, but otherwise a fantastic power pop record.

Sloan – One Chord to Another

ARTIST: Sloan  220px-Sloan_One_Chord_to_Another
TITLE: One Chord to Another
YEAR RELEASED: 1996
CHART ACTION: #16 Canada
SINGLES: The Good in Everyone (#9 Canada, #7 Canada Alternative), Everything You’ve Done Wrong (#6 Canada), The Lines You Amend (#39 Canada, #12 Canada Alternative), G Turns to D
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only Canadians, Sloan fans, and power pop freaks
LINEUP: Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, Jay Ferguson, Andrew Scott
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Sloan self-releases their third album after saying “To Hell with Geffen Records” or something like that. It’s a success artistically and commercially.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After issues regarding their second album and a low-ball offer from Geffen for album number three, Sloan took their songs and went home to Canada, and recorded and released this gem all by their lonesome. (Well, they did have a producer and engineers, but still…)

This is on the level with their previous release, and has quite a few memorable, quirky and smart songs. Everyone writes, of course. Everyone sings, too. From the singles above to a paean to singles “A Side Wins” to the flow of the album, Sloan comes through with just an enjoyable collection.

This was out of step with the times, as grunge had evolved into a nu-metal bro-type sound and there wasn’t a lot of room for smart power pop on the US airwaves.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Because it was self-released and they had to find a distribution partner, this wasn’t released until 1997 in the US. It also had a bonus disk called “Recorded Live at a Sloan Party!” which was re-recordings and covers overdubbed with ‘party’ sounds.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: In Japan, there are a couple of versions with extra tracks and b-sides

GRADE: A-: It’s another solid album from Sloan, who decided to play with their own ball this time in Nova Scotia.

Sloan – Twice Removed

ARTIST: Sloan 220px-Twice_Removed_(Sloan_album)

TITLE:  Twice Removed

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: #25 Canada

SINGLES: Coax Me (#30 Canada, #6 Canadian Content), People of the Sky (#58 Canada, #4 Canadian Content)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sloan fans win – but probably not us in the USA.

LINEUP: Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, Jay Ferguson, Andrew Scott

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Sloan ditches the grungy distortion, and record a clear power-pop record. It got them acclaim, and dropped from their record company.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Clear guitars, harmonies, melodies, and some crunch (but not enough to obscure the songs). It’s a perfect recipe for power-pop. Sloan’s second release delivers it.

Featuring songs from each band member (as per usual), Sloan delivered a varied record with songs ranging from down ballads like “Loosens” to pop singles ready for radio like “Coax Me” and songs like “Bells On” or “Worried Now”, which gives you some clear and then crunchy dynamics like classic Posies.

Canadians ate this up – while not a strong seller at first the album grew on folks up there. It’s pretty good record from head to toe. Yet, since it wasn’t GRUNGE or whatever Geffen dropped them when it stiffed here in the US. But they barely promoted it except on an obscure compilation. Record companies…

NOTES & MINUTAE: In 1995, this was voted the #1 album of all time by a Canadian artist. A few years later, it was down to #3, but is still acclaimed up there.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  Japanese bonus tracks, of course.

GRADE: A-: This covers the range of tempos and moods that you want from a good power-pop record.

Sloan – Smeared

ARTIST: Sloan 220px-Sloan_Smeared

TITLE: Smeared

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #72 in Canada

SINGLES: Underwhelmed (#1 Canadian Content, #25 US Modern Rock), 500 Up, Sugartune (#4 Canadian Content), Take It In, I Am the Cancer

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh heck no.

LINEUP: Jay Ferguson (not the one from Spirit), Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland, Andrew Scott

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from Halifax’s own Sloan wears their influences on its sleeve, to the detriment of some of the songs.

 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sloan had released an EP in Canada in 1991, and during the Nirvana frenzy they got a DGC record contract because they kinda sounded like a power pop version of Sonic Youth.

In Smeared, DGC got an imperfect album that showed Sloan’s great potential. The less ‘sonic goop’ on the songs, the better they were. Sloan’s strengths were its songwriting with hooks and melodies, and while they were influenced by Sonic Youth, the Pixies, et. al. distortion wasn’t their strength. That means some good songs were lost in unneeded noise. This is coming from a reviewer who doesn’t mind noise one bit – it just didn’t work here.

Underwhelmed is the song that makes the album, though 500 Up and a few others are definitely worthwhile. I’m a big Sloan fan, and there’s enough good stuff here to keep it all. The troubling songs just have a lot of noise. Maybe Sloan needs to revisit the album in a stripped down way?

NOTES & MINUTAE: The band had only formed in 1991 – they worked fast in getting the deal! Also, this record was recorded for just $1200. Not bad.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  No.
GRADE: B-: It was a decent debut. Better things would come, and soon