Sunday, November 25, 2007

10 albums you should own- Part one of series.

It occurs to me that in order to keep my NaBloPoMo readers, I may need to have a hook, something this blog has heretofore lacked. So today I'm starting what will be an occasional series, outlining ten albums that I feel as though every right thinking music fan should own. This will be in no particular order, but when it's all said and done, I think you'll be pleased with the selections. on with the show!

Sloan- One Chord To Another

So say you're a rock band from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Your debut album is a huge seller in your home country, and gets you some pretty good buzz in the States, and you're one of the many bands hit with the tag "The Next Nirvana". But you're smart enough to know that you're not the next Nirvana, and your second album goes in a completely different direction.

Your label disagrees, and refuses to promote the album. The fans love it though. Folks in your own country even vote it the greatest Canadian album of ALL TIME. Naturally the label drops you. So what do you do next?

Well, if you're Sloan, you briefly split up, then triumphantly reunite and record the album you want and release it on your own label. The result- One Chord To Another.

Sloan has always been a band that wears its influences on its sleeve, and OCTA is no exception. "Junior Panthers" would be at home on any Brian Wilson album, and "Autobiography" recalls late era Beatles. I'm not sure what inspired the horns of "Everything You've Done Wrong", but I like to imagine it's a bit of Herb Alpert.

My favorite part of any Sloan album is the lyrics. Lots of bands use clever turns of phrase and work for the laugh, but very few bands are willing to string the joke through the song and accept as a reward a chuckle at the end. "Autobiography" is one of my favorite examples of this:

I'm writing "young and gifted"
In my autobiography
I figured, who would know
Better than me

I'm certainly the former
But I'm not so much the latter
But no one's gonna read it
So I'm sure it doesn't matter

When you find that you're the former
Take pride in how you form
And when you find that you're the ladder
Don't let those people walk under you

I'm writing "sharp and adult"
With my finger on the steam
On the mirror in my bathroom
While I'm applying shaving cream

Which would suggest that I'm the foamer
But how can I be the lather
And something tells me
It's the opposite I'd rather

When you find that you're the foamer
Be careful what you foam
When you find that you're the lather
Don't shave too high, you'll regret it later
La la la la

I've stayed in school this long
But still no one will tell me why
They figured who would know
Better than I

I know I'm a conformer
But I'm sure it doesn't matter
My new friends are all adults
And my old friends all have scattered

When you find you're a conformer
Take pride and swallow whole
But if you're trying to climb the ladder
Don't let people walk over you
Because that's just what they'll do
Don't let people walk over you
Because that's just what they'll do

I just adore it.

All in all, this album sparkles with tight musicianship, and the sense of a band that has shed its shackles and has decided to spend the rest of their careers doing what they want, damn the consequences. And as a special treat, the US version of the album was released with a bonus "Live at a Sloan Party!" cd, featuring the band performing some great covers, including Stereolab, Jonathan Richman, and Bryan Ferry. It is not, however, an actual live album.

Overall verdict- while Twice Removed is possibly the best Sloan album, you simply cannot go wrong with OCTA. It's a piece of pop genius that will make you smile from ear to ear. And definitely one of the ten albums that I think you should own.

No comments: