XX Marks the Spot

“Sloan is not anyone’s favorite band. It’s doubtful Sloan’s mom even places them in her Top 10.” – Pitchfork.com, 2003

Anyone who has gone to see Sloan, and heard their fans chant their name before the show starts, knows the above statement is a crock of shit.* They may not be any Pitchfork staffers favorite bands, but they are a lot of people’s. I’m not sure I have an absolute, but Sloan are up there for this guy.

In a lot of ways, they are my band. We’re around the same age, we both loved My Bloody Valentine and the Smiths and then, as the years went on, discovered British Invasion bands, Thin Lizzy, ’70s power pop and glam, Fleetwood Mac and more. Sloan have been there for me for 20 years and ten albums and have never really let me down. Sure there were periods where we didn’t keep in touch — regretful jobs, relationships, albums — but when ever we saw each other face-to-face it was just like old times, without too much remember when.

Sloan are in their 20th year of existence and have just released their tenth album which is maybe the Sloan-iest album they’ve ever made and probably one of their best. I used to say Sloan changed with every album, but ever since probably Action Pact they’ve figured out their own sound which is an amalgam of everything they had done up to that point. Power pop, crunchy riff rock, those signature harmonies, lots of drum fills and even more puns.

Puns like naming a 30-track double album Never Hear the End of It or, in this case, The Double Cross being another way to say XX, the big 2-0. Like I said it’s especially Sloan-y, this one, with the most cross-polination we’ve heard from Chris, Jay, Patrick and Andrew in a dozen years. The band have admitted that pretty much since 1999’s Between the Bridges, the four members (who all write and sing) mostly work and record seperately on their songs. But here everyone’s got their fingers in everything.

Songs flow seamlessly into one another. Chris Murphy colaborates with everyone, singing a verse on Andrew Scott’s “She’s Slowing Down Again”; his “Shadow of Love” shows up in coda form in Jay Ferguson’s groovy “Beverly Terrace”; and even co-wrote a song with Patrick Pentland (the lovely album-closer “Laying So Low”) which is kind of astounding if you know anything about Sloan’s dynamic. And it’s all for the good of the record which gets in and out in 37 minutes.

There are just some real classics here. Jay’s “The Answer Was You,” which sails along some lovely melotron, and “Beverly Terrace” which is a glam-disco stomper of the highest order. “She’s Slowing Down Again” is quintessential Andrew Scott, behind the piano again for the first time since Pretty Together, and it sounds like it coulda been on Navy Blues. He also turns in the Dylan-ish one-chord organ jam “Traces” that once again shows him to be Sloan’s most thoughtful lyricist, on even the most tossed-off number.

Of course the band’s most quotable lyricist is Chris Murphy, the man who gave us “it’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans,” successfully rhymed “onomatopoeia” and much more, actually lets down his guard here. It’s not just all bon mots. “Laying So Low” is pretty bare emotions. (He knows his way around a hook too, of course, and “Shadow of Love” and “Daddy Will Do” are rediculously catchy.) And for the first time in a long time, I like all of Patrick’s songs, especially the rifftastic “Unkind” that sits confidently beside his other arena rockers “Money City Maniacs” and “Losing California.”

And it all works great together, which is kind of Sloan in a nutshell.

It’s such a solid record, even Pitchfork unequivocally liked it, though it’s 8.1 wasn’t quite enough to give it Best New Music. Hey, it’s something I guess.

*That quote is from their review of Action Pact which is generally accepted as Sloan’s worst album.

MP3: Sloan – Beverly Terrace

You can get The Double Cross in a variety of formats as well as some special packs aimed at superfans like myself.

In celebration of the band’s China Anniversary, Sloan HQ has been making a series of very entertaining little web documentaries where various actors (Dave Foley, Jason Schwartzman), and musicians (The Dears, Broken Social Scene, Fucked Up) talk about their love of Sloan. (For the “favorite Sloan lyric” one, it’s all Chris quotes, no surprise.) There’s also an especially fun “Underwhelmed” medley where their first hit gets a dramatic reading, plus some commissioned covers: Choir! Choir! Choir! doing “Everything You’ve Done Wrong,” and Owen Pallet conducting a string quartet version of Andrew’s “People of the Sky.

Sloan are touring too, hitting NYC at the end of June: Bowery Ballroom on 6/29 and The Knitting Factory on 6/30. All the tour dates — and a couple of those little movies — are after the jump!

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Sound Bites Best of 2008 | Albums

2008 was a great year for good music and a pretty good year for great music. I kept expanding my list from 20 to 25 to 30, and then back down to 20 (sort of). Deciding what would be my #10 took forever. (The top #9 have been there for a while, with the order shuffling around till seconds from this posting.) And actually my Top 5 were as close as they've been in ages. My rules: whatever year an album is first made available in any legally obtainable format (CD, vinyl, digital, etc), that is the year it's eligible. No compilations of previously-released material. So no MGMT (came out last year), no Bon Iver (wouldn't have made it anyway). Without further ado, my favorite albums of 2008:


1. MetronomyNights Out (Because Music) | A couple things take Nights Out to the top slot of '08. They've worked out a distinct sound that is instantly recognizable whether it's their own tracks or the remixes they do for other artists. It's manic, with a water-damaged quality to it that sounds like what it feels to be up for 36 hours straight, buzzing on espressos (or whatever) but dead tired. In a good way, obviously. It sounds like nothing else. Plus, whistling! Above all else, it's my favorite of the year because it's almost all hits. Nights Out contains at least seven single-worthy tracks and absolutely no bad songs. How many albums can you say that about this year? 

MP3: Heartbreaker | A Thing for Me

Myspace | Buy it on Amazon

2. Mystery Jets – Twenty One
(679 Recordings) | If you'd told me two years ago that Mystery Jets would make one of the best pop albums of 2008, I think I would've scoffed. Here was a band who claimed King Crimson to be a primary influence, and who never met 17 disparate musical ideas that they didn't like and want to put all into the same song. Not that they didn't have some good songs before but The Mystery Jets were just too damn inclusive. But there's no denying the pop smarts and inventive arrangements found all over their new album, Twenty One, a highly enjoyable statement about being young by people who actually are young. And like Metronomy, nearly every song could be a single. It seems unfathomable that this didn't get released in America.

MP3Young Love | Two Doors Down

Myspace | Buy It 

3. Deerhunter – Microcastle / Wierd Era Continued
(Kranky / 4AD) | What a year Bradford Cox has had. Two Deerhunter albums, plus an album and six EPs under the Atlas Sound moniker. All of it good, some of it was amazing. Microcastle was the crowning achievement.  I liked Cryptograms but this is a stellar album, indie rock with a pop sensibility, and showcase for Cox's songwriting abilites and studio ingenuity. And that the suprise bonus album, Wierd Era, was nearly as good is all the more amazing. May 2009 be as fruitful for him.

MP3Deerhunter – Never Stops 

Myspace | Insound | Emusic

4. Crystal Stilts – Alight of Night
(Slumberland) | The band I became more obsessed with in 2008 than any other, probably because they gave me seemingly endless chances to see them live, most of which I took advantage of. (I think I saw them 10 times at least.) Somewhere between Bo Diddly, JAMC, and The Chills lie Crystal Stilts' moody, twangy, echo-drenched sound which is even sweeter on vinyl. So many great songs, and seemingly sprouted fully-formed. According to lore, Alight of Night has been sitting around completed for four years waiting to be released! Seriously guys what were you waiting for? On the plus side: hopefully this will mean a second album will come sooner than later. 

MP3Crystal Stilts – Departure 

Myspace | Buy it 

5. The Week That Was – S/T (Memphis Industries) | Field Music may have disolved but the Brewis brothers remain some of the most creative  – and prolific — artists working today. 2008 provided twice as much music. David Brewis gave us School of Language, which was good but a bit too clinical for my taste. But Peter Brewis' The Week That Was is a brilliant look at our obsession with media and instant information, inspired by Paul Auster and glistening like an '80s Trevor Horn production. If that all sounds overly heady, the album is resplendent with lovely melodies and big rhythms. And with brother David and Andrew Moore in the band too, the big headline is Field Music kinda never really broke up.

MP3The Week That Was – The Airport Line 

MySpace | Buy It 

6. The Muslims – S/T
(1928 Recordings) | They may be now calling themselves The Soft Pack, but whatever the name this is one hot record. Like I've said before, these San Diegans aren't trying to reinvent the wheel. But they write great songs, sound raw and alive  and have mountains of the one thing you can't fake: attitude. The bullet-riddled vinyl EP you see here (which included a CD with three more tracks) has sold out two runs but will be reissued under The Soft Pack name as a 10-song LP in 2009.

MP3:   The Muslims – On My Time 

MySpace | 1928 Recordings

7. Lykke Li – Youth Novels
(Atlantic Records) | Of all the Scandinavian pop singers out there (Annie, Robyn, et al), I think Lykke Li has the best chance of sustaining a career. Especially if she continues to work with colaborator/producer Björn Yttling who helped her craft such a distictive organic sound to go along with all those catchy hooks. Li's voice — fragile, understated — makes Youth Novels all the more human.

MP3Lykke Li – Let It Fall 

MySpace | Buy It

8. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
(DGC) | Finally, TVotR deliver on the promise they made with that first EP back in 2003. Much like what The Associates, ABC, and Scritti Politti attempted in the mid-'80s, Dear Science is the post-punk asthetic applied to pop ideals. This is the sound of them really going for it — and succeeding spectacularly.

MP3TV on the Radio – Crying 

MySpace | Buy It

9. Late of the Pier – Fantasy Black Channel (Parlophone) | The craziest record of the year that still manages to hold it together somewhat within pop boundaries. Within its grooves, Fantasy Black Channel offers up post punk guitars, synth pop, g-funk, glam hystrionics, prog… often wthin the same song. Take "Bathroom Gurgle" which melds Gary Numan and Queen like it was the most natural thing in the world. Just maybe not Earth.

Fantasy Black Channel gets a U.S. release through Astralwerks on January 13, 2009.

MP3: Late of the Pier – Heartbeat 

MySpace | Insound

10. The High Dials – Moon Country
(self-released) | A late entry in the 2008 race, Montreal's High Dials exell at country-tinged psych-shoegaze (a sound that is timeless for me) and even though they no longer have a full-time sitar player, the songwriting remains top notch. This double-CD is only six minutes longer than thier 2005 album War of the Waking Phantoms but splitting it onto two discs makes it easier to take it all in. Plus, a sound this big kinda needs two discs. What it really needs is vinyl, but it's CDs and digital for now.

MP3: My Heart is Pinned to Your Sleeve | Invisible Choirs 

MySpace | Buy It

11 – 20, and more after the jump….

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Andrew Scott on Sloan’s “Reggae” Song + Bowery Shows

In the weeks leading up to the release of Sloan's new album, Parallel Play (which is out today), Yep Roc records has been sending out emails with each of the band's four members giving behind the scenes looks at the songs they wrote for the album. We got the last one today, drummer Andrew Scott who contributes four songs to the album. Two of them are unlike anything Sloan have done before, one being the overtly Dylan-esque "Down in the Basement;" and the other being the controversial "reggae" number, "Too Many."

In his typical no-bullshit way, here's what Andrew Scott has to say about it:

I've been
addicted to Trojan box sets, and Studio One box sets and the like and
generally overload on vintage Jamaican ska, rocksteady, dub, etc. I think
the musicianship is outstanding and the whole scene was so formulaic in
that every song could almost be interchangeable yet each recording is
totally different and individual. If i were teaching somebody an instrument
– I'd recommend anything from this era (of which there is shitloads) and
I'd say "play along with this stuff." Also the productions are mind
boggling in their varied use of all the same simple elements – echo and
reverb. One doesn't even have to be a stoner to get into it either –
however it certainly doesn't hurt every now and then. I wanted to pretend I
was Prince Buster. I wanted it to be repetitive and kind of hypnotic but
tuneful as well. The only thing I regret is not putting horns and sax on
it. Next time…

MP3: Sloan – Too Many

Next time indeed. He also drops this nugget about the group's dynamic, which might be a little bit to "behind the curtain" for some:

I play all the instruments on my songs for expediencies sake
and because I am very picky about what gets played and how on "tape." When
we learn to play our records live, after they are made – then everyone else
has free license to play as they feel. It just sort of ended up being that
way since our third record.

I knew they basically did everything by themselves on the last couple records but was unaware it had been that way since One Chord to Another. Sloan plays Bowery Ballroom next Thursday and Friday and tickets are still available for both shows. I sound like a broken record, but if you've never seen Sloan live, you're really missing out.

Sloan Sloan Sloan

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!"
…band over.

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":

MP3: Sloan – I’m Not a Kid Anymore
(Pre-order Parallel Play)

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.

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Sloan | Southpaw | 5.11.2007

I have written enough about Sloan in the past year so I will try to make this brief, but Sloan’s show at Southpaw was probably the best I have seen them do for Never Hear the End of It. It was part location, part performance and mostly the setlist.

While I obviously love Bowery Ballroom it was nice to see them somewhere else — yet not somewhere bigger. Southpaw is just a bit smaller but feels much more intimate, a great place to see a show once you get past the design flaws (the front door, bar and stage all meet for one giant bottleneck) that make the place so annoying. But the sound was great and the crowd seemed to be 100% superfans. Are there casual Sloan fans?

The song selection for me was amazing. It was mostly culled from their great new album, but we older selections were very different from what we’ve gotten the last few years. Nothing off the last two records.* Five songs off my favorite, One Chord to Another, three from Navy Blues, and three from Twice Removed, including the awesome "People of the Sky" and "500 Up" which I don’t think I’ve ever heard them play before. I could have used more Jay — though getting "Don’t You Believe a Word" was a highlight — but overall zero comp.  For the encore, Chris and Patrick also paid homage to legendary Canadian power trio Rush by covering "Spirit of Radio" briefly before kicking into encore staple "Deeper Than Beauty." Patrick was a little under-the-weather, but they all seemed into it. With all that audience love, how could you not be? 

MP3: Sloan – G Turns To D.mp3
| One of my all-time favorite Chris songs, haven’t heard them play it live in ages. Buy some Sloan, won’t you?

Chris was hamming it up as usual, though he’s now added planned camera-mugging to his arsenal — as you can see here in pictures swiped from Xtine and Kristyliekwhoa‘s Flickr pages. My new digital camera has proved a better video camera in dark situations, so I’ve been fooling around with that. Here’s a twofer ("Living with the Masses" and "HFXNCHC") plus some stage banter from Andrew:

Other blogs in attendance: Matthew Fluxblog and Matty from A Hamburger Today. Here’s the setlist:

Flying High Again | Who Taught You to Live Like That | Someone I Can Be True With | Ill Placed Trust | G Turns to D | The Lines You Amend | Fading Into Obscurity | Golden Eyes | Love is All Around | Living With The Masses | HFXNSHC | Blackout | Money City Maniacs | Don’t You Believe a Word | Set in Motion | I Understand | You Know What It’s About | Chester The Molester | I Can’t Sleep | People of the Sky | Something’s Wrong | I’ve Gotta Try | Everything You’ve Done Wrong | Before the End of The Race | Ana Lucia | The Good in Everyone | Another Way I Can Do It |Encore: Deeper Than Beauty | 500 Up | She Says What She Means

*Not that there’s anything wrong with Pretty Together and Action Pact. Well, Pretty Together at least.

Sloan | Bowery Ballroom | 1.18.2007

"Oh my god, did you hear their last song? It was so bad-ass!" Dorian Thornton, bassist from openers Spiral Beach, was enthusing at the merch table to bandmate Daniel Woodhead. He was talking about Sloan's "If It Feels Good Do It" and they both started miming the song's Big Rawk Riff. Sloan have had plenty of air guitar moments over the course of their eight albums and it was certainly heartening to see two kids (Spiral Beach are all still in their teens) so pumped for a group 15 years their senior.

Then again, it's hard not be psyched after a Sloan show, because they are, in a word, awesome. Few bands today have a better time putting on a great show than these Canadians. Everyone at the sold-out, jam-packed show last night at the Bowery was super-psyched, pumped, enthused, etc, etc. Regular readers of this blog (Hi Kelly! Hi Toby!) are well-aware of my love of Sloan: power pop kings, riff-gods, masters of harmony, players of Christmas parties, makers of delicious cassoulet.

Sloan's latest album, Never Hear the End of It, hit US stores last Tuesday, and the setlist drew heavily from it, playing 19 of its 30 songs. Of course, many of those were only about two minutes long (or less) and segued into one another as they do on the record, making for mini-medleys. I thought this actually made the show even more exciting, as all four members write and sing it kept things really moving.

The best of these was the second of two Andrew Scott suites where they powered through "I Can't Sleep," "I Know You," "Something's Wrong" and "I've Gotta Try," which is going to the be official US single, complete with a just-shot music video. It really felt like Andrew's night. He got a lot of mike time this time around (he had no songs on Sloan's last album, Action Pact) but more than that he was just such a powerhouse behind the kit all night. Usually, Chris Murphy's antics demand attention but I spent most of my time watching Andrew. (Except when Chris licked his way up the microphone stand, which was both funny and gross all at once.)

Despite the dominance of the new album, they made lots of room for the classics, including "The Lines That You Amend," "C'mon, C'mon," "Money City Maniacs," "Anyone Who's Anyone," "Chester the Molester," "The Good in Everyone," "Penpals" (which they played at its proper fast speed) and "The Other Man," a song a lot of Sloan fans hate but I actually really like. To each his own. Nothing from the first album, though.

The show was at least 90 minutes though the crowd would've stayed for twice that. The band hung out downstairs after the show, chatting with fans. Andrew told me about some sushi place near the club that he said was really good — had eaten at twice since getting into town, actually — but I can't remember the name. (So much for this being a music-and-food blog. I really need to step up.) Jay Ferguson, meanwhile, refuted Andrew's claim that he had never eaten a shrimp. He has… he just doesn't like them, okay!

Openers and fellow Torontoians Spiral Beach were a lot of fun. I don't even know how to describe them. They're a bit like the Coral or the Zutons, by way of Oingo Boingo (minus the horns). Psychotic circus music? You could definitely dance to it. I am anxious to hear what they sound like on record.

Fluxblog was also there, and has the full setlist. The awesome pictures used here were swiped from Kathryn Yu's Flickr photostream. She always has great concert shots, but has really outdone herself here. Dig this picture of Patrick Pentland in full rock star pose…


Onion Holiday Party with Sloan + David Cross | Union Hall | 12.15.2006

"Is anyone recording this?" Chris Murphy yelped midway through a marathon-length version of "Sensory Deprivation" from Sloan's 1999 opus, Between the Bridges. As all four members of Sloan write and sing, when it's Andrew Scott's turn on the mike, Murphy takes over for drums… and goes apeshit. He's already a ham when playing bass, but put him behind the kit and he turns into an exaggerated Keith Moon impersonation, a barrage of constant fills and stick twirls. Andrew Scott's voice seemed to be giving out, so "Sensory Deprivation" became one monster riff jam that kept going and going and going.

Sloan were in town just to play The Onion's Holiday Party at the very cool Union Hall in Park Slope. "Sloan has played a number of these 'corporate gigs' over the years," Murphy told the crowd. "But this is the first one we've actually looked forward to." It probably helped that Between the Bridges was chosen as the inaugural entry in The Onion's feature "Permanent Records:  Albums in the AV Club's Hall of Fame," or as Murphy called it, "The Hall of Commercial Disappointments." In fact, they were giving away copies of Between the Bridges at the door.

The main space Union Hall is a quite large — part ski lodge, part Ivy League library, part bocce ball court — but the downstairs performance space is tiny, maybe holding 150 people. So it was a real treat to get to see one of my all-time favorite bands (who normally play Bowery Ballroom) in such a small venue and who were there mainly to enjoy the party like everybody else.

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Sound Bites Interview: Sloan’s Andrew Scott

Sloan1This is a continuing series of interviews in which musicians talk about food, and chefs talk about music. One of Canada’s national treasures, Sloan are now in their 15th year as a band and have just released their eighth album, the 30-track Never Hear the End of It. Through hits, misses, appearances in various Don McKellar projects, and the kind of record company woes that would kill most groups, Sloan have maintained the same lineup throughout, and all four members share writing and singing duties. Andrew Scott spends most of his time behind the drums, but also knows his way around the guitar and Fender Rhodes. He is also an accomplished painter and, as you’ll soon read, quite the epicurean.

Sound Bites: Did any food in particular fuel the making of Never Hear the End of It?

Andrew Scott: Nothing great – mainly bad coffees and Portuguese “club sandwiches” from this place called Nova Era Bakery down the road from our space. The surliest service in town.

SB: Who is the best cook in the band?

AS: I’m going to have to nominate myself although I’ve never tasted the others cooking.

SB: Who is the most finicky eater?

AS: Jay.

SB: According to Wikipedia, Jay’s favorite food is shrimp. [This has since been removed from Jay’s entry – Ed] Can you confirm? What is yours?

AS: I doubt Jay has ever had a shrimp. As far as I know his favorite food is French Fries or steak – “well done.” Mine would be cassoulet soup, made with my own goose stock and real goose meat and really good cured sausage; not to mention beans that do not come from a can, dry white wine, tons of fresh thyme, shallots and, the most important thing of all, butter. Pretty yummy in the winter.

SB: Is there a city you look forward to playing… for the food?

AS: Any city in Japan because it is all so good – or Spain for the same reasons, but add the coffee. Japan has some work to do in that department. Then again, Spain has no sushi infrastructure as yet…should i go on?

SB: Any good food-related band anecdotes?

AS: Not really – our band has generally treated food and eating as a way to go off on one’s own for a while. Until recently. We’ve started to venture to a good restaurant now and then as a group and it sits better when someone, inevitably me, will look to Mike (Nelson, Sloan’s manager) and suggest we “band it.” We’ve had many a fine bottle of wine on the Sloan tab.

SB: Which city has better bagels: NYC or Montreal?

AS: Montreal.

SB: What is your hangover food of choice?

AS: Bacon and eggs.

SB: You’re a dad now. What do your kids refuse to eat?

AS: Quite a bit but, to their credit, they have both expanded their horizons somewhat. For the longest time anything green – naturally – is shunned, however every new meal is just that. They are pretty easy to feed these days. They just eat whatever we eat. A lot of salmon or pastas with pancetta. Lots of lollipops, cookies and popsicles.

SB: You’ve been living in Toronto for some time now. Are there any advantages, culinarily, to living there as opposed to Halifax?

AS: I never had a relationship with food when I lived there last but the benefits of living in Toronto are so many. Really fresh ingredients are everywhere – organic markets, butchers, dairies, produce and fish…etc. Halifax, one would think, has great seafood but, really, all the best fish is shipped here and to other big cities. They get left with a pretty unfortunate selection. You have to get out to the country to get the best fish I think.

SB: You were in a rap band in college called Oreos in Reverse. What’s your favorite cookie?

AS: My wife Fiona makes this one which is like a folk art chocolate chip cookie with demerara molasses sugar…mmmmmmm…

New Sloan

My favorite Canadians, Sloan, are set to release their eighth album on September 19 and earlier in the week Stereogum posted about the first single, "Who Taught You to Live Like That?," being available on the band’s MySpace page.

Today, Chromewaves reported that the album is 29 songs long (!) with equal contributions from all four members. Never ones to shy away from self-deprecating humor, the album is called Never Hear the End of It.

Sloan’s last album, 2003’s Action Pact, seemed like a obvious stab at the charts, with a de rigeur overly-compressed digital sheen and way too many negligible pop-punk songs from Patrick Pentland, and none from drummer Andrew Scott. Keeping it from being a sad suckfest were resident ham Chris Murphy and his melodic skills, Keith Moon imitations and corny/clever lyrics; and the two contributions from vinyl freak Jay Ferguson — the best on the album.

For a while it looked like Action Pact would be their last, but when the boys played Bowery Ballroom last year in support of their singles comp A Sides Win, Chris Murphy said the band were already working on their next album… and obviously they weren’t kidding.

The very Bolan-esque "Who Taught You to Live Like That?" is the first Jay-penned Sloan single since "The Lines You Amend" ten years ago (and technically that was Jay/Chris). It may not be the strongest Sloan song ever, but it sounds like a real band playing, not something pieced together on a computer. I can’t wait to hear the other 28.

MP3: Sloan – "Who Taught You to Live Like That?"

My favorite Sloan video: "People of the Sky"