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here's a copy of the sloan article in _access_ (nov. 1994, vol.1, no.4)
magazine for all the netters who haven't picked it up. i'm just
transcribing it directly, and have no comments of my own (is that good or
An Alternative To Alternative by: Roman Mitz
Andrew Scott, drummer and one of four vocalists for the East Coast
pop band Sloan, is disgusted by the state of alternative music. Gathered
around a weathered table in a downtown beer joint, the members of Sloan
are waxing philosophic about the demise of alternative; and how their
second major label album, _Twice Removed_, stands out in the crowd.
"Alternative isn't a word you can use to describe yourself anymore,"
Scott begins, raising his voice up a couple of decibels to over-ride the
Tragically Hip song blaring out of the jukebox. "No thanks, I don't want
to be grunge. I think _Twice Removed_ is way better than the glut of
alternative stuff out there. Although we stood behind that music before,
there's just too much of it out there now, so I can't use it to identify
So what would you call a band like Sloan? The publicity sheets for
their last album _Smeared_, tagged them as a punk band. However, the new
album is far too varied to be called punk. Songs range from the
chillingly sparse 'Loosens' to the riff-laden 'Before I Do', to the pure
pop of 'Penpals'. At times they sound like a lost band from the 60's,
where jangly guitars recall The Byrds and merry choruses evoke The
What sets Sloan well apart from 60's popsters, is the lyrical
complexity of their music. Repeat plays of _Twice Removed_ are necessary
to pick up on the unique turns of phrase and subtle themes that run
through the songs. Most of the numbers are fairly dark in nature, but
the album's closer, 'I Can Feel It', appears to end things on a positive
- if somewhat ambiguous - note. ("Don't reveal the mystique," Scott warns
songwriter Patrick Pentland.)
Noting that the advance cassette did not identify writers or
vocalists, helpful bassist Chris Murphy takes the time to quickly pencil
in the credits on the label. Thus we now know that Murphy penned and
sang 'Coax Me' - the first single. While the band hopes 'Coax Me' will
eclipse the popularity of their previous semi-hit, 'Underwhelmed',
they're not looking for a monster smash. "I'm glad -- in terms of the
band's longevity -- that Underwhelmed wasn't some kind of runaway hit,"
says Murphy. "I wouldn't want to be in the position of, say, Counting
Crows - where they have this huge song right off the bat. We'd rather
ease into it, with an overall quality record."
While Sloan is busy promoting their new album, they have not
neglected their east coast roots. Back in 1992, a now infamous musical
showcase at an art gallery in Halifax generated enough interest to spur a
cross-Canada tour, which culminated in a major record deal in Vancouver.
However, Sloan does not flaunt its big-label status (with the exception
of record company watches worn by all but Scott). Conversely, they
operate their own small label, Murderecords, on which they release
records by deserving east coast artists.
With a brand new album, a tour on the horizon and part-time jobs as
record company moguls, the boys in Sloan are very happy with the way
things are progressing.
"We pay the rent, and don't make much more," adds Pentland. "But
it's enough, you know?"
"If all this ended tomorrow, and I didn't have a band and I wasn't
on tour and I didn't have a record...I'd be depressed for a couple of
years," Murphy concludes. "After that, I'd look back at what a wicked
thing we did."