NOW PLAYING ON PHAWKER RADIO/REVIEW BY ED KING At 30 songs long ? 30 songs! ? it’s a wonder anyone will hear the end of this album, but that’s why I’m here. Never say never, Sloan. It feels like only last week that I came home from high school — having made a quick stop at the Sam Goody at Roosevelt Mall — with Elvis Costello & the Attractions’ latest, Get Happy!!, in sweaty hand. Oh baby! Through the wonders of a hitherto described process of “groove cramming,” the band and producer Nick Lowe managed to pack 20 soulful, fractured, slightly psychedelic would-be hits into 40 minutes of standard-issue vinyl. My friends and I didn’t need no stinking gatefold sleeves and Roger Dean art to get high; we got as high and happy as could be from those crammed grooves.
These days it’s not grooves that get crammed, it’s bytes. Like the nice, good Canadians they are, Sloan bypassed the double CD/increased price route for 30 nonstop, concise, mostly rocking numbers. In fact, I was able to download the tracks from Yep Roc for not much more than I paid for the packed, triple-album Sandinista the day of its release. Now that’s good bang for the buck. All the Sloan sonic trademarks that have emerged since Navy Blues are accounted for: the Paul McCartney and Wings-style melodies; the stomping, Kiss Army-style choruses; and the occasional, whimsical piano-based romp. There’s that overall vibe that Greg Brady is holding two choice tickets for “the big rock show” this Saturday night. This is all good, of course. And the songs are mostly good, clean fun, managing to avoid the pitfalls of so many modern-day power pop
blands bands: the humorless, imaginary breakup songs about girls the singer never had the guts to approach; too much reverb; too much pop, too little power — and we’re talkin’ 30 songs, people! We’re talkin’ groove cramming!
“Ill Placed Trust”, the second single from the album, is a prime example of both the band’s strengths and its weaknesses. The band pulls out 9 out of 10 possible lighter-raising moves, from bass fills in the upper echelons of the fretboard to exhortations to “come on” to panned, echoed backing vocals and a dead stop. And. It. Was. Good. But before you, the righteously aggrieved power-pop connoisseur, bemoans the fact that Sloan isn’t as big as Cheap Trick once was in 1978, know this: It’s noble, deluded musicians like these guys who keep the old forms in public circulation if not on the charts. There’s something to be said for an indie band playing to the packed arena in its collective mind, something that goes beyond riches and fame and all the firepussy you can eat. It’s located at the end of a long and winding road where the love you take is almost equal to the love you make and rock n’ roll is it’s own reward. And somehow that’s enough.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Believe it or not, despite what he writes for Phawker, ED KING, AKA I AM JADED FUCKIN’ INDIE GUY, actually likes a LOT of things, but mostly he likes to be left alone. Ed has kicked around the outer orbits of the periphery of local scene for some time. He was there when Tuxedomoon played Revival. And where the fuck where you? Ed likes all things great and some things good. Anymore, what falls short of those simple criteria gets harder to bear. He appreciates you respecting his privacy at time like this.