When: Wed., Nov. 16, 9 p.m. 2016
Sloan exists on a rarefied level in its home country of Canada. If the Toronto-based four-piece were to show up for a festival crowd and not play "If It Feels Good Do It," "Money City Maniacs," and about ten other Canadian indie rock staples, it would be like Tom Petty skipping "American Girl" or the Stones without "Brown Sugar." But those gems don't ring many bells stateside.
Sloan has been a regular touring presence in the U.S. since the mid-nineties, yet, as Spinal
Tap manager Ian Faith might have said, the band's appeal in the Triangle is more selective—despite eleven almost uniformly excellent LPs, a cracking two-hundred-plus song catalog, and an unusually engaging live show. Part of this muted success stems from Sloan's chosen genre of power pop, a rare enough presence on the pop charts. Thus, the average Sloan fan here gets tipped by a friend who "knows," or else knows not.
In more than a quarter century, Sloan has steadfastly adhered to a model that rarely works in rock: a democratic, frontman-free, "each guy is the boss of his own song" approach that somehow continues to inspire great writing and playing, whether propulsive power pop, shape-shifting suites, or visceral, crunching rockers that nick the best and dopiest parts from Kiss and Cheap Trick.
The band's current tour commemorates the release of 1996's One Chord to Another, a landmark in its evolution. In 1992, Sloan's debut for Geffen imprint DGC reflected era-appropriate tropes, but the members soon chafed at sonic strictures. They ditched the grunge sound for burnished pop surfaces on the follow-up, Twice Removed, but the label balked, buried the record, and dumped the band. When the time came to record a third LP, storms had been weathered, both contractual and internecine, and each member was primed to prove himself.
Recorded for a fraction of the cost of its predecessor, One Chord to Another served as both a comeback record and a watershed, the sound of a band happily finding itself, unfettered by music-biz B.S. and catapulting from its sixties influences into a blazing roar unbeholden to any era.
Starting with the audience shrieks that introduce "The Good in Everyone," (another Canadian must-play), One Chord is powered by the blunt force of Andrew Scott's drums, recorded on the cheap on a four-track. Over twelve songs, the mood shifts in cannily modulated shades. Chris Murphy's "Take the Bench" boogies like an outtake from Big Star's Radio City; Jay Ferguson's beguiling "Junior Panthers" and tragic "The Lines You Amend" swoon with longing. And Patrick Pentland's "Everything You've Done Wrong," is pure, giddy uplift. On this tour, it's a must-play and a win for the States. —David Klein