I haven’t written about Sloan since last May. Which is a long time for me. So get ready, I’ve got lots of info.
Firstly, this is the cover to the band’s new album, Parallel Play — This is the band’s eighth studio effort and the title is a reference to the stage in kids’ development when they play next to each other but not with each other. Which is their winking way of describing how the band works these days. For more on this, bassist Chris Murphy had this to say:
Collaboration can be difficult. Our band does less of it than we used to and it’s too bad. It may just be a romantic feeling but the songs where something major was added by someone other than the main writer are my favorite. I definitely come in with finished song structures but I like to leave room for someone to play something I wasn’t expecting.
We never fight. We just stew. Aren’t the best bands the ones that are founded in passive aggressiveness? If this is true then we are truly the best band ever. When you’ve gone this long without a real fight there is the constant fear that if we start telling each other the truth that it will be the end of the band.
If we videoed this process even Metallica would think we looked like goofs:
"Don’t try to make my song sound like the fucking Traveling Wilburys!"
"Yeah well give your backwards delay wah pedal to some 15 year old that thinks it’s cool!"
We have all developed a sophisticated sense of humor that we use against each other at times. Patrick is the funniest man alive but he also loves digital delay. That would make me a Traveling Wilbury.
This is the most democratic, percentage-wise, Sloan record we’ve gotten in a long time. As you may know, all four members write and sing and this time it’s pretty evenly split, with everyone getting three songs, except drummer Andrew Scott who gets four. Clocking in at 35 minutes, Parallel Play is their shortest ever. Kinda funny, as their last one, 2006’s Never Hear the End of It, was their longest. It’s out June 10 on Yep Roc but you can hear it right now, via a streaming player on the Yep Roc website. But here’s the first single, Chris Murphy’s "I’m Not a Kid Anymore":
I’ve listened to the album a few times and it’s another strong one in their 17-year career. Chris Murphy brings snark and melody, Patrick Pentland delivers the Big Riffs, and Jay Furgeson‘s encyclopedic pop knowledge gives us the best songs on the album, including highpoint "Cheap Champagne," which should please anyone who really dug Navy Blues‘ "C’mon C’mon." As for drummer Andrew Scott, he generally classes up the joint, and finally answers the question many Sloan fans have been asking: "When will Sloan’s genre-plundering finally lead them to reggae?" The time is now, folks.
They may all be nearing 40, most of them with kids, but they’ve still got it. Certainly, they’re still easily one of the most consistently awesome live shows of my rock-show-going existence. If you’ve never experienced Sloan in person, shame on you, but you can rectify that shortly as they’ll be in the States in June:
Jun 14 Detroit Majestic Theatre
Jun 15 Philadelphia North Star Bar
Jun 17 Washington, D Black Cat
Jun 18 Cambridge, MA T.T. The Bear’s (buy)
Jun 19 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
Jun 20 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom
Jun 22 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
Jun 23 Chicago, IL Double Door
Tickets for the Bowery shows are on sale this Friday.
But wait, there’s more! Lots more ("witch music," "techno," etc)… after the jump.
In other Sloan-related business, the band has revived their Murderecords imprint as a functioning record label –part of Universal in Canada — that will release more than just Sloan albums. (In the 90’s the label was home to many of Halifax’s best bands, including Eric’s Trip, Jale, and the awesome Thrush Hermit.) From what I can tell, this go-round is mainly Chris and Jay’s puppy but the first two new signings had their records out this week…
I’m not sure what to make of Toronto’s Pony Da Look, but they describe themselves as "four gargoyles spewing juices from their throats." That kinda works. Thier Murderecords debut, Shattered Dimensions is inhabited by gothy synth rock with singer Temple Bates’ wild vocals and lyrics that Rick Wakeman would probably approve of. Sloan’s Chris Murphy simply calls it "witch music." Murphy also dates PDL’s drummer (with whom they just had a son) and he directed the video to the album’s first single, "Wishstick." Behold:
The other Murderecords signees are Will Currie & the County French, who are probably closer to the kind of band you might expect Sloan to sign to their label. We’re talking ’70s piano-based pop, nice stuff from what I’ve heard on their MySpace page. There’s a definite Steely Dan vibe going on with "Centrefold" from Currie’s new album, A Great Stage.:
One last bit of Sloan-related info. Guitarist Patrick Pentland also records electronic music under the name Destroy Tomorrow 666, believe it or not. He’s also one of the many who’ve tried their hand at remixing Radioheads "Nude": which you can listen to below: