Deep Album Cuts Vol. 106: Sloan

Most of the artists I include in this series are household names, but now and then I stretch the parameters of inclusion for some personal favorite like The Posies or now another power pop institution, Sloan. But Sloan, though they've maintained a fairly low profile in America, are a moderately big deal in their native Canada. I fondly remember falling in love with One Chord To Another in high school and going to Toronto on a school band trip and geeking out to see the "The Lines You Amend" video on MuchMusic and get a sense that one of the little cult bands I loved was actually famous somewhere. Sloan released their excellent twelfth album 12 last month, and I started putting together this playlist just thinking about how impressively consistent they've been without every breaking up or changing members. If you don't know the band well already, the A Sides Win: Singles 1992-2005 compilation is a good entry point to a dozen or so of the songs that have charted in Canada, and this playlist is kind of a companion piece for that to dig deeper.

Sloan deep album cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Penpals
2. Can't Face Up
3. Right Or Wrong
4. On The Horizon
5. Left Of Centre
6. It's In Your Eyes
7. I Hate My Generation
8. A Side Wins
9. You Don't Need Excuses To Be Good
10. Stand By Me, Yeah
11. Lemonzinger
12. Down In The Basement
13. Ready For You
14. Listen To The Radio
15. Cheap Champagne
16. 400 Metres
17. Wish Upon A Satellite
19. Snowsuit Sound
20. The Great Wall
21. Anyone Who's Anyone
22. I Was Wrong
23. Green Gardens, Cold Montreal
24. The N.S.

Tracks 5 and 11 from Smeared (1992)
Tracks 1, 7 and 19 from Twice Removed (1994)
Tracks 2, 8, 16 and 21 from One Chord To Another (1996)
Tracks 4 and 10 from Navy Blues (1998)
Track 24 from Between The Bridges (1999)
Tracks 6 and 20 from Pretty Together (2001)
Tracks 13 and 22 from Action Pact (2003)
Tracks 3, 14 and 18 from Never Hear The End Of It (2006)
Tracks 12 and 15 from Parallel Play (2008)
Track 23 from The Double Cross (2011)
Track 9 from Commonwealth (2014)
Track 17 from 12 (2018)

The last time Sloan released an album in 2014, I did a post here of an 'imaginary Sloan box set' with 4 playlists collecting the best songs of each member of the band, singles and deep cuts alike. And I decided to keep that concept in mind with this playlist and every four tracks cycles through the members of the band, since I think Sloan's greatest strength is that every member writes and sings songs on pretty much every album. Tracks 1 and 5 and so on are Chris Murphy, tracks 2 and 6 and so on are Patrick Pentland, tracks 3 and 7 and so on are Jay Ferguson, and tracks 4 and 8 and so on are Andrew Scott, so each guy gets six of their best tracks here.

Since Sloan had a bit of a shoegaze/Sonic Youth-influenced sound when they debuted in the early '90s, and slowly turned towards a more retro Beatles production aesthetic, I worried a little that jumping around their discography wouldn't sound right. But the first two albums fit together with the later stuff pretty well, it turns out. The Never Hear/Parallel Play/Double Cross era has a lot of songs that flow together from one track to the next, which makes for some abrupt beginnings and endings when you take the songs out of the albums for a playlist, but for the most part it's not too disruptive here.

One thing that surprised me is that I ended up picking songs that really complement their hits. Where a lot of their biggest singles have been Patrick Pentland hard rockers like "The Good In Everyone" and "Money City Maniacs," I gravitated to Pentland's mellower deep cuts like "It's In Your Eyes" (a strong candidate for one of the band's best songs ever) and "Listen To The Radio." And the band's albums have often featured some fun outliers in the band's sound like the the acoustic "Green Gardens, Cold Montreal," the punky "HFXNSHC," and the Dylanesque "Down In The Basement." And "Penpals," "I Hate My Generation," and "Anyone Who's Anyone" have been featured in their setlists as often as a lot of their singles. I should probably try to go to their show in D.C. this week, I've only seen them live once before.
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