Sloan: Lost in Translation?

It’s an old story north of the border, and in fact, Zero to 180 would be legally barred from writing about Sloan in Canada due to their massive popularity.  What would be the point?

Ah, but here in the States, Sloan is almost a dirty secret.  What’s our stupid problem?

The “Canadian Sgt. Pepper’s”?

Sloan LPSloan’s sophomore release, Twice Removed, would even be voted twice by Chart Magazine as (hold onto your hat) “The Greatest Canadian Album of All Time”!  That’s right, ahead of Neil Young’s Harvest and Joni Mitchell’s Blue.   At Sloan’s 2012 performance of their entire Twice Removed album, Zero to 180 would strike up a conversation with a fan from Up North and be struck by the young man’s bold declaration that this LP was revered (by more than a few) as a Canadian Sgt. Pepper of sorts.

And yet, the music venue hosting the show – DC’s Black Cat – was having none of it.  Despite having previously played the club’s main stage to a full room, Black Cat made the dubious and disconcerting decision to squeeze the band and its fans check-to-jowl into its tiny “Backstage.”  Oh, the indignity and blatant disrespect.  Seriously though, Black Cat – what the funst?!?

Sloan in 2011 at DC’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (hourly rates available)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Twice Removed would be the band’s second release for David Geffen – yet another testament to Geffen’s savvy (DGC would also be home to Sonic Youth, Nirvana, The Posies, Teenage Fanclub, The Raincoats, Pere Ubu, John Doe, Aimee Mann, and Southern Culture on the Skids, while flagship label Geffen Records would bear witness to XTC, The Chameleons, Tommy Keene, The Misfits, Hole, The Simpsons … and er, the aforementioned Neil Young).  Despite having invested $120,000 in the making of Twice Removed, Geffen would do little by way of promotion, and the band would soon find themselves dropped from the label.  But hey, you can’t keep a good song down, and even this $2000 promo video for “People of the Sky” – filmed in the director’s backyard – does nothing to diminish the song’s oversized appeal:

“People of the Sky”     Sloan     1994

“People of the Sky” would hit the #58 spot on the Canadian chart in late 1994.

Sloan singlePop Matters makes a credible case for Sloan as Canada’s Beatle-ian counterparts — before you snort derisively, however, please allow Aaron Pinto to count the ways:

  • 1. The band’s lineup never changed after its first album was released.
  • 2. Each member was indispensable and irreplaceable.
  • 3. Each member had a distinct, unique personality.
  • 4. Each member could sing.
  • 5. Each member could write. (In the case of the Beatles, three did regularly.)
  • 6. Every album is essential and different from the one before it.
  • 7. There are enough albums to constitute a complete career, but not so many that it’s a burdensome task to listen to and keep track of them all.
  • 8. They were a tremendous live band.
  • 9. They cared about their band image—every album except one features each member’s likeness on the cover.
  • 10. The band always possessed a sense of humor, be it in its lyrics or its public interactions.
  • 11. They broke up instead of continuing and potentially tainting their band legacy with a lineup change or a bad album.

Mr. Pinto disturbingly writes about the band in the past tense, though the band’s website gives no formal indication (will try not to read too much into the statement “no shows booked at the moment”).  Has Sloan officially disbanded?!

Hey, did you know that Zero to 180 has a Facebook page where you can go and “like” stories that have earned a place in your heart?  It’s true.  Zero to 180 is channeling the spirit of Sally Field as it earnestly asks you to like it – papa bear could use some sugar.