For some reason (possibly because the universe is a cruel and chaotic place where nothing makes sense), Sloan never really gets mentioned alongside bands like Rush, The Tragically Hip, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, or, of course, Nickelback when discussions about Canada’s greatest rock bands come up. Canadians aren’t known for getting angry about all that much, so we apologize for having to use some harsh language here, but that’s simply a load of codswallop.
Over their 20-plus year career, Sloan have amassed an incredibly impressive discography. Although they’ve released many classic singles throughout that period, we thought we’d have a look back at some of their finest ‘deep cuts’: late album tracks, B-sides, and bonus materials that may have gone unheard by non-Sloan superfans (or as we like to call them, filthy casuals).
Listening to Sloan’s debut 1993 record Smeared, it’s clear why Geffen records saw such potential for the band to excel in the post-hair metal era, and “Marcus Said” manages to stay within the angsty Gen-X grunge paradigm, but the fact that it sounds more like My Bloody Valentine than Soundgarden indicates that they had influences and ambitions beyond becoming a straight-up alternative/grunge act. It fell to the second half of Smeared but gets extra deep cut points for also appearing on their very first release, the Peppermint EP.
“I Can Feel It”
The final song on Twice Removed, the 1994 masterpiece LP that almost ended their career before it really began, was also released as a promo 7-inch B-side. It’s easy to imagine coked-out A&R guys from Geffen having a panicked conference call after hearing this mellow, jazzy acoustic pop track from what was supposed to be one of their big new grunge acts. Although their dreams of US superstardom were not to become a reality, this song (and album) hinted at the more melodic, classic sound the band would go to build their legendary career on.
Another example of the band taking the dour, Gen-X malaise that epitomized their contemporaries and turning it on its head. Instead of a depressing slog through the uncertainty of life as a shaggy-haired, aimless twentysomething, this fuzzy pop song is instead a nostalgic ode to a remembered time of childhood innocence and play, and also a reminder that the right partner can instantly turn any brooding flannel-enthusiast into a stuttering, awkward kid.
“Take the Bench”
“Take the Bench” may be a little less poppy and a little more blues-oriented than some of One Chord to Another‘s signature songs, but it’s got one of the most singable choruses in Sloan’s entire discography. Absolutely perfect to be screamed along with while driving on a neverending highway with your best friends, on a winter road trip in your parents’ minivan with the broken heater.
“Stand By Me, Yeah”
One of the best Sloan songs, period. Although Navy Blues was generally heavier than their previous few albums, “SBMY” sees them at their most Beatles-esque pop. Like the best Lennon/McCartney compositions, it sounds like an incredibly simple song, but reveals itself to be deceptively complex when you pick up a guitar and try to play along at a party, embarrassing yourself in front of everyone. To put it as scientifically as possible: dem chord changes in the pre-chorus, tho.
“Glad to Be Here”
“Glad to Be Here” was a B-Side from 1999’s Between the Bridges and was also released as part of the (seminal, iconic) Much @ Edgefest ‘99 compilation album. A delightful, quintessentially Sloan mix of “aw shucks” Canadian politeness, hard rock riffage, and melodic pop vocal harmonies.
“Pretty Together (demo)”
This song did not appear on the actual album Pretty Together except as a B-side, and it also featured on their late 2000s collection of rarities, B Sides Win. A mellow Jay Ferguson gem that served as a great counterpoint (as so many other Ferguson songs did) to the more classic guitar rock influence that makes up the band’s primary songwriting formula.
“I Was Wrong”
This Patrick Pentland pop gem from the latter half of 2003’s Action Pact effortlessly weaves together the ’60s, ’70s, and ’90s influences that have come to define the band’s signature sound, including the amazing Brian Wilson-esque vocal harmonic stacking in bridge, and wraps everything up in just under three minutes. A filler track that could have easily been the key single for many a fledgling band. This is Sloan in a nutshell.
“The Best Part of Your Life”
This song appeared as an iTunes bonus track on 2006’s Never Hear the End of It and was also released as part of B Sides Win in 2010. It’s an amazing testament to just how prolific Sloan are as a songwriting collective that on a 32-track double album, they can still afford to keep a great song like this on the sidelines.
“Take it Upon Yourself”
This was technically a single, but since it came from their online-only EP Hit & Run, and was a giveaway to subscribers to their mailing list, it absolutely qualifies for deep-cut status. It’s also one of the very best Chris Murphy songs in an incredibly extensive list of good songs. Side note: we think it’s high time that Murphy takes it upon himself to admit that he is either a time-traveler or immortal vampire.
“Cars” (Gary Numan cover)
This song was never properly recorded, but was performed as part of the AV Club’s “Undercover” series. It’s worth checking out not only because it’s an interesting take on a classic song, but also for Chris Murphy’s legendary drum faces.