Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sloan The Double Cross 2011

I've always liked this fine Canadian band of pop-rockers. Over the years they've added some punk-lite sounds to their repertoire of power-pop gems and Beatles-inspired rock and roll. I've been disappointed by a few of their records, but several are excellent. I'm especially fond of Navy Blues 1998, Never Hear The End Of It 2006, and the near perfect Beatles-esque Between The Bridges 1999. Their live       4 Nights At The Palais Royale, also from 1999, is also good.

Blessed with multiple songwriters and singers, the band has kept things interesting over the years by advancing their sound in a number of directions, and creating records that don't all sound the same. For instance, Never Hear The End Of It (two CDs in Canada, one in America) featured 30 songs over its 72 minutes, and the quality of those songs is stunning, given the number of them.

This new one is a pretty fine effort. The record opens with Follow The Leader, an intriguing psych-rock stomper that has an almost Spoon-like sound, at least until the pristine harmonies come into play. The Answer Is You is a blend of Raspberries and ELO in the verses, with a more aggressive chorus. She's Slowing Down Again is a mid-tempo rocker that hearkens back to the power-pop of Navy Blues. Green Gardens, Cold Montreal is a McCartney-esque acoustic ballad that ends side one of the vinyl version.

It's Plain To See is a hard punk-like rocker that has some killer guitar. More excellent mid-tempo numbers with great arrangements include Your Daddy Will Do and the piano-led Beverly Terrace. The big surprise of the record is Traces, a bluesy rocker that digs a deep groove that sounds like a very good Dylan tune, with a big swinging chorus and a clean, open sound that is like nothing they've done before, and really special. Laying So Low closes the record on a sad acoustic note that includes some swell guitar-electric piano interplay and a big, harmony-filled chorus.

There are a few that just don't have the melody or hooks of their best material, but most of what is here is darn fine Sloan. If you've never heard them, Between The Bridges is my recommended place to start. This new one is well worth hearing, and is certainly a good enough introduction that you just might want to hear some more.

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