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A final word about earplugs

A final word about earplugs-- "Now I know how Joan of Arc felt as the
flames rose to her Roman nose and her hearing aid started to melt." Kids,
don't let this happen to you.

Also, did I ever upload the story I wrote in _Xtra_ here in the kinky, evil
city of Toronto about Sloan something like 25 months ago? Here 'tis:

Queer in Your Ear 19

Underwhelmed? Not!
by Joe Clark

Good news for refugees living in the megalopolises of Toronto, Montreal, or
Vancouver because they couldn't get a job, a lover, a recording contract,
or something else important in the Maritimes, Newfoundland, the Prairies,
the North, or anywhere in small-town Canada they happen to be from: The
tide is turning! It's finally becoming possible to make it without moving
to a big city.

        The preeminent exemplar of this overdue redistribution of
opportunity is Sloan, a four-piece guitar-rock band from Halifax. A talent
scout from Toronto's MCA Records saw Sloan's live show down east last year,
loved it, and sooner than you could say "squid-jigging grounds" Sloan found
itself signed to a direct contract with DGC, David Geffen's "alternative"
label in California. And the boys in Sloan didn't have to move away from
Halifax to do it.

        All this happened pretty fast, leaving just enough time to tour
across the country and release a six-song independent EP, Peppermint, both
of which were mere prologue to the début album Smeared. Recorded all the
way back in late 1991, it's full of the kind of soaring/gliding guitars
that make you want to hum along. But you'll be too busy singing along, for
Sloan are purveyors of memorably dense and charmingly logocentric lyrics.
Not always, of course, but many of the words, in effect, are about words,
as in the single that put the boys on the map, "Underwhelmed." This ditty
is all about saying the wrong thing to your girlfriend (transpose genders
if desired) and is brilliant in its ironic evocation, through wry turns of
phrase, of teenage verbal klutziness: "She was underwhelmed, if that's a
word. I know it's not 'cause I looked it up. It's one of the skills I
learned in my school. I was overwhelmed - I'm sure of that one 'cause I
learned it back in grade school when I was young.? She pulled out a story
about her life. I think it included something about me. I'm not sure of
that, but I'm sure of one thing: Her spelling's atrocious! She told me to
read between the lines and tell her exactly what I got out of it. I told
her 'affection' had two Fs - especially when you're dealing with me."

        Then there's "Sugartune," allegedly a song about the breakup of a
relationship (yawn) but more entertainingly interpreted as a pæan to a
friend entering detox, or maybe to someone about to have an abortion. With
its arching guitars and vocals (the latter synching with the former at
song's end, as if in onomatopoeia), its deceptively cheery-sounding chorus,
and its overt self-referential dedication to That Special Someone  ("I
wrote for you this Sugartune to help you through what you've got to do"),
"Sugartune" harkens back to heartbreaking one-hit wonders like "Billy,
Don't Be a Hero." But here we're dealing with boys who have the expansive
wall-of-sound chords of their guitar heroes (Johnny Marr, My Bloody
Valentine, Sonic Youth) embedded into their very DNA. Far from being ugly,
all those guitars can only come off sounding as charming and sincere as the
lads who strum them.

        And as further evidence that Generation X and camp are overlapping
social movements, guyish, long-haired drumstick manipulator Andrew Scott is
thrilled to be on the same label as Cher. "We're in her class. She sits up
at the front of the class and we sit at the back of the class with all the
alternative bands," he says, wringing the metaphor to death. "She sits up
there with Axl and we're transfer students still getting to know everybody.
I want her to dress with jeans with holes in them, a baseball hat on
backwards, and a flannel shirt - Grunge Cher."

        Hey, I'd buy that for a dollar. Maybe we can photograph her on
horseback like on the cover of Half-Breed. Enough with the infomercials,
Cher, honey. You've got a date with Sloan!

                                        Joe Clark