Canadian Bands You Should Know: Sloan

Aug 05, 2014


One of Canada’s greatest bands of all time, Sloan has released 10 excellent LPs over 20 years.
Credit: Berkeley Church.


There’s a different Sloan for every generation of fans. For the kids pushing 40, Sloan is a fuzzed-out, mop-topped, Eric’s Trip shirt-wearing calamity from Halifax that got chewed up and spit out by Geffen Records. For the kids that remember Much as MuchMusic, Sloan is a band that kind of broke up but still put out a record and kind of remade a scene from Easy Rider as a music video, all while putting out records by friends Thrush Hermit, Zumpano, The Inbreds and The Super Friendz. For the kids of those first kids, Sloan is that band they saw opening arena shows for Foo Fighters a few years ago that Jason Schwartzman enjoys.

Jay Ferguson and Chris Murphy interviewed on CBC in 1993.

Whatever your choice of Sloan, you’re likely a fan of not only the band, but the personalities of the men that have cranked out 10 studio LPs in 20 years (with the solo-oriented Commonwealth slated for a September 2014 release). Between them, Patrick Pentland, Chris Murphy, Jay Ferguson and Andrew Scott have rotated instruments, graced individual covers of Chart Magazine (the only band to do so) and brought their antics to every short lived Canadian variety show, from Open Mike to Rita and Friends.

“Keep Swinging (Downtown)” off Sloan’s forthcoming record, Commonwealth, out September 2014.
 
Yes, Sloan is more Canadian than Bob and Doug drinking stubbies in a blizzard and will likely go down in CanRock history alongside contemporaries the Tragically Hip and Broken Social Scene, as well as such legends as Rush and Joni Mitchell, but possibly the most Canadian thing about the band is that its influences include such European acts as Thin Lizzy, My Bloody Valentine and The Beatles. Well, that, and that the band definitely made a solid attempt at the American market (something all CanRockers feel the need to do). After releasing 1992’s deliciously messy pop delight Smeared through Geffen Records, the band’s landmark ’94 release, Twice Removed, was put out but not promoted by the label (who instead spent a whack of dough on videos for Weezer’s debut) after allegedly referring to it as not representative of the band. How Neil Young of them.

The Gen-X anthem”Underwhelmed” appeared on Sloan’s 1992 debut full-length Smeared.
 
So how did Sloan find that sweet spot as a critically adored group with a rabid fanbase that racked up 10 Juno nominations (winning only for 1996’s One Chord to Another) and a healthy collection of MuchMusic and East Coast Music Award nominations? Maybe it’s because the band stayed in control of its work, reportedly selling songs to beer commercials to afford the rights to the master recordings Geffen owned. There’s something to be said for being a true independent artist, and Sloan’s sincerity/honesty makes the band seem genuine. Its members, seasoned vets or not, have always been equally critical and supportive of the scene.
 


“Everything You’ve Done Wrong,” the second single from Sloan’s 1996 album, One Chord to Another.

The thing that will set Sloan apart from classic rockers and contemporaries is that not only is the band still putting out excellent releases (2006’s epic/diverse 30-song LP Never Hear the End of It is arguably the band’s best record) in addition to limited edition “official” bootleg releases (again, very Neil Young) but that they don’t take themselves all that seriously. In countless videos and interviews, the band poke fun at celebrity and fandom. To paraphrase the introduction to the “She Says What She Means” video—Sloan can lead you to a better way of life. A fruitful conformity.

Sloan’s “She Says What She Means,” off their 1998 release Navy Blues. 
 

–Nicholas Friesen 

 

     

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TF 1.800.213.9750

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