The Race for best disc of 2007 may already be over.

January 22, 2007 at 1:27 am (Uncategorized)

Yes, I’m digging the Shins disc.

Yes, the Softlightes (not “The Soft Lightes” or “The Softlightes” as they have previously incarnated themselves, but simply “Softlightes”) disc is kicking my ass, too.

Looks like my favorite disc of 2007 though (and I’m having a hard time hearing something in my mind’s ear that’ll top it) might already be decided, and it might be Sloan’s new one, cleverly titled NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT.

First off, [iI know you hipsters north of the border have had this to listen to since October, 2006.[/i] I’m going by the Stateside release, which happened to be last week. Ok, I’ll admit that I ponied up double the list price to get an import of this back in October; I’ll also admit that Sloan’s first studio album in nearly 3 years left me absolutely cold after a half-dozen attempts to get through it, and I put it away meaning to file it for one of 2007’s greatest disappointments.

Last week, I’m setting up my new replacement iPod, and it accidentally transfers nearly 3/4ths of my music library over. Yikes! Lots of goofy one-offs and ephemera I had snagged to potentially use on long-forgotten mix cd’s there (why on god’s green earth did I want or need a copy of a Lemon Pipers song that wasn’t “Green Tambourine”????). It grabbed music I’d probably not listen to at all and stuffed it onto my iPod. Part of that dross was NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT. Of course I’m too lazy to rapidly remove unwanted songs/artists/albums from said iPod, so last week while cleaning the house, I decide on a whim to give NEVER HEAR one last chance. This time, though, instead of “speed-reading” through the record to find the choicest cuts (which is what the reliable arena-rock sound these Halifax boys had devolved to on their last few studio efforts had me resorting to), I start this from the beginning and let it unfurl all 30 of its songs (yeah, 30; I told you that the album title was pretty clever, as in “self-deprecatingly”) at its own pace.

Taken in that full-on dose, I realize something: I don’t hate that disc as much as I remembered. In fact….I sorta liked it. Enough so that I punched it back up and listened to the whole damn thing again. Then I gave it another listen. For the last 9 days or so, this is the only CD I’ve played, in fact, over and over and over again.

One of my favorite memories of childhood was taking long car trips on vacation, my indulging mother (or brother) allowing me control of the radio dial. Back in the 1970’s, you used to be able to pull in all sorts of weird stations with oddball playlists (the days before de-regulation and satellite programming, how I miss them). You’d hear Edison Lighthouse doing “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” into “Dancing Queen”, into the Marshall Tucker Band…and it all seemed to somehow fit together. The reason I digress to this is that the new Sloan disc reminds me of what you might hear by letting one of those weird AM stations in the middle-of-nowhere play on a sun-splashed summer day on the open interstate. You’ll hear fist-pumping arena rock (“Ill Placed Trust”), weird ELO-sounding blue-eyed soul (“Who Taught You To Live Like That”), or sweet ballads (“Live The Life You’re Dreaming Of”, which sounds like a massive 1975 AM radio hit, and could be the best prom theme song no one’s ever heard). Sometimes there are a bunch of twists and turns crammed right into one song, too (“Fading Into Obscurity”, “I’ve Gotta Try”, and “Ana Lucia”). There’s even a goofy, winning stab at old-skool hardcore punk buried in here (“HFXNSHC”, which if you were a punker in the mid-1980’s–and know where Sloan hails from–requires no deciphering whatsoever.)

The album flows by organically and smoothly, with each song crossfaded into the songs that surround it, creating natural segues and a “song suite” feel like that album long thing on ABBEY ROAD. That it all holds up over 30 songs is some kind of lunatic genius.

Let’s do some Sloaning, here. First off, a couple of fave tunes from NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT:

“Fading Into Obscurity”
“Who Taught You To Live Like That”
“I’ve Gotta Try”

Also, try a live video of “Ill Placed Trust”:

And while we’re on videos, this might be the sweetest, most charming, most awesome, “here’s why this is my favorite band” video EVAR. (Apparently Sloan bassist/singer Chris Murphy had noticed during rehearsals for the Ovation Music Festival in Ontario that the promoter’s very young daughter was sporting various Sloan t-shirts, and was singing along to their songs…so at the actual concert, he brought her up on stage…and, well, you can’t fake this kind of genuine coolness.)

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    There’s always that arena rock (when it didn’t suck) edge which those Canucks can bring to the slab. Blue jeans and tee shirt rock and roll. They have Moxy.
    Dan

  2. Leah said,

    Don’t lock in your early votes yet — Of Montreal has what will be an outstanding album coming out soon, and I recommend you check out the Voxtrot EP that just came out.

  3. Joe Thebeau said,

    Total agreement on the Sloan. Though I did get it in 06 as an import…

    …so maybe it should have nudged my band out as your #1 for 06.

    😉

    Thanks again for all the kind words on your blog about Finn’s Motel. I’ve been hesitant to post anything here, but, I guess you can’t see me blush on the internet.

    -joe

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