Hello Halifax!

Chris McCluskey takes it Sloan.

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Some say no band has been more important to, or synonymous with, Halifax music than Sloan. And with their eighth full-length studio album hitting shelves September 19, they now have an equivalent number of releases between their formative home and their adopted home of Toronto. Bassist Chris Murphy says the town they grew up is an important part of their story and a city they’re intricately connected to.

“This question I get a lot, especially in the context of the ECMAs,” he says. “In the ECMAs people are like, ‘Why do you come here? What are you doing here? You’re not part of this community!’ And then, if I didn’t come, there are people who are like ‘We support you’—and I want to be gracious to the people who are good to us. Q104 plays us all the time, and I don’t think that’s just because we’re ‘great.’ It’s because we’re from there, they want to support us and I want to show my appreciation for that.”

Moving forward from eight years ago, Sloan’s latest, Never Hear the End of It, is a progressive, brave effort with a total of 30 songs. Its title is far from a subtle play on its length, and Murphy says its variety is what keeps it interesting.

“We made a less eclectic sounding record, and now it’s back to the eclecticism,” he says, contrasting the new effort with 2003’s Action Pact. “This time it was more of an anything goes kind of record. Like ‘Hey you’ve got a ballad? You’ve got a rocker? It doesn’t matter.’ Which is what I’m more comfortable with…anything goes, whatever you have, just put it in.”

The new effort put the brakes somewhat on the power pop, and can be considered Sloan’s first album in recent memory without a song exuding stand-out radio potential. There is an evident omission of the past commercial appeal of “If It Feels Good Do It” and “Money City Maniacs.”

“I think sometimes Patrick”—Pentland, the group’s most reliable hit writer—“feels a little bit obligated to come up with his signature single kinda thing. There is a song called ‘Ill Fated Trust’ that is the most sorta like that, a Patrick rocker kinda thing,” Murphy says.

As the reviews start to pour in, Murphy draws his own conclusions.

“I think people will say ‘sounds more mature,’ but is it more mature than “Coax Me?” And that was years ago. I want to make lots of records and keep my band together. And other than that I have no idea what we’re doing, just I’m doing my best. I do want people to love it or hate it, I hope it’s not just something people mildly like. ‘Fuck them,’ people might say, ‘That’s awesome, or I can’t believe they did that!’ That’s more exciting to me than, ‘Oh, Sloan, are they still at it? Good for them. How many songs on the record? Oh, twelve. Good.’ ”

Sloan’s next Halifax show is a little gig this Saturday, with The Rolling Stones, Kanye West and Alice Cooper on the Halifax Common. Sloan leads the day off at 4pm.

In other news

Jon McKiel is once again on the road with his band in support of his self-titled album released last spring. His 13 dates will take him and Rebekah Higgs, who also is supporting a record, through Ontario and back, with the finale taking place October 5 in Fredericton. No word on a local date just yet, but we’re pretty sure the show won’t be on the Common.

Prove there’s life after the Stones concert---send musical happenings to: scene@thecoast.ca

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