- Lisa Mark
- Chris, Andrew, Patrick and Jay.
Sloan made me want to be in a band. From the first time I watched them on MuchMusic (“The Other Man”—still my favourite music video) to seeing them play Twice Removed at the Marquee, I was enamoured.
During my Masters at Dalhousie, under the guidance of Dr. J (shout out to Jacqueline Warwick!) I examined Sloan as a model for young, white, male identity in Canada, flaws and all. I looked at how they played against conventional male identities, as well as sometimes playing into those same conventions. They were everything that a band should be: four best friends who hung out, played music and made jokes with each other.
I haven’t liked everything that they have done (as you will soon find out) but they’ve made music I love more than anything else. This is an attempt at organizing the catalogue, from worst to best. I only look at major releases, 11 full-length records and two EPs, 160+ songs—over 20 years of music. No demos, outtakes, covers or Japanese exclusive tracks, and any time a song is featured twice, I rank them together.
I apologize if I hate your favourite Sloan song.
“It’s Plain To See”, The Double Cross
What I imagine a mid-life crisis sounds like.
“Listen to the Radio”, Never Hear The End of It
NHTEOI has a lot great songs on it. It also has this song, that sounds like Bon Jovi circa “It’s My Life”. Moral of the story: maybe 30 songs is too much.
“Down in the Basement”, Parallel Play
We get it Andrew Scott, you really like Bob Dylan.
“I Understand”, Never Hear the End of It
I’m pretty sure Patrick Pentland wrote this song to try and get laid.
“Oh Dear Diary”, Hit & Run EP
40-year olds shouldn’t have diaries.
“I Know You”, Never Hear the End of It
The sound of just barely trying.
“13 (Under a Bad Sign)”, Commonwealth
Sloan does Nickelback.
“Beverly Terrace”, The Double Cross
I can’t tell if this is a joke or not.
“Can’t You Figure It Out?”, Never Hear the End of It
I really hate the way Jay Ferguson sings “Do you remember?”
Maybe the whiniest song Sloan ever wrote.
“Shadow Of Love”, The Double Cross
Not even Chris Murphy can save this turd.
“Fade Away”, Action Pact
I wish this song would fade away.
“Last Time In Love”, Never Hear the End of It
Being sad that you don’t get to fall in love another now that you’ve fallen in love makes you sound like a dick.
“Right or Wrong”, Never Hear the End of It
I promise, there are some good songs on this record, just bear with me.
“Your Daddy Will Do”, The Double Cross
One word comes to mind. Yikes.
“Midnight Mass”, Hit & Run EP
As boring as regular mass.
“Is It Never”, Hit & Run EP
Patrick Pentland sounds like a robot.
“Too Many”, Parallel Play
My thoughts exactly.
“People Think They Know Me”, Never Hear the End of It
I love hearing famous people complaining about being famous.
“Living With The Masses”, Never Hear the End of It
Is it rock and roll to complain about your noisy neighbours?
“Get out of Bed”, Hit & Run EP
Ironic as this song makes me yawn.
“The Other Side”, Parallel Play
I’d rather listen to RHCP’s “Otherside”.
“She’s Slowing Down Again”, The Double Cross
Slowing way down.
“Blackout”, Never Hear the End of It
They sound like tough dads.
“Another Way I Could Do It”, Never Hear the End of It
Another Way You Could Do It is not write this song.
“Take It Easy”, Commonwealth
Hurts my ears.
“Sensory Deprivation”, Between the Bridges
This was actually a single.
“The Answer Was You”, The Double Cross
What is up with those fake-ass flute and string sounds? Sloan can’t afford actual flute and string players?
“Take It Upon Yourself”, Hit & Run EP
Take it upon yourself to not listen to this song.
“Backstabbin”/“Hollow Head”/“Live On”, Action Pact
These three songs are all on the same record/pretty much the same song.
“Ill Placed Trust”, Never Hear the End of It
Like trusting Sloan to write an exciting song again.
“Keep Swinging (Downtown)”, Commonwealth
“Money City Maniacs” boring cousin.
“All By Ourselves”, Between the Bridges
Lyrical equivalent to a grade 7 poetry assignment.
“Where Are You Now?”, Hit & Run EP
Not listening to this song.
“I’ve Gotta Know”, The Double Cross
At least it’s short.
“Reach Out”, Action Pact
This sounds like the colour beige looks.
“Losing California”, Between the Bridges
This would be higher on the list if Navy Blues never existed.
“Gimme That”, Action Pact
They literally name drop Nickelback.
“Will I Belong?”, Never Hear the End of It
A worse version of “I Hate My Generation”.
“Are You Giving Me Back My Love?”, Pretty Together,
“Green Gardens, Cold Montreal”, The Double Cross
Jay Ferguson LOVES metaphors.
“We’ve Come This Far”, Commonwealth
Another song filled with bad synth tone.
“Carried Away”, Commonwealth
The least charming Chris Murphy has ever been.
“It’s In Your Eyes”, Pretty Together
“You’re so crazy for me, and I know just why” is narcissistic even by Sloan standards.
“Dreaming of You”, Pretty Together
This sounds like “on-hold” music.
“All I Am Is All You’re Not”, Parallel Play
This would be lower on the list, if not for the tolerable chorus.
“Get Out”, Commonwealth
This song screams “rock opera”.
“Neither Here Nor There”, Commonwealth
This song can give you diabetes if you listen to it too many times.
“The Life of a Working Girl”, Pretty Together
This song is vague as hell.
“Who You Talkin’ To?”, Pretty Together
Those midi-instruments suck.
“What’s Inside”, Commonwealth
This song drags. So. Much.
“If I Could Change Your Mind”, Parallel Play
Can a song have a shit-eating grin?
“Three Sisters”, Commonwealth
Another chapter in the “Jay Ferguson Book of Random Metaphors”.
“I’ve Gotta Try”, Never Hear the End of It
It sounds like you didn’t.
“Love Is All Around”, Never Hear the End of It
Very 2000s era Duran Duran.
“Everybody Wants You”, Never Hear the End of It
On an already over-crowded record, this could have been cut.
“Laying So Low”, The Double Cross
The good songs on Double Cross aren’t so much good, as they are just not terrible.
“Believe In Me”, Parallel Play
Sounds like Boston for all the wrong reasons.
“Nothing Lasts Forever Anymore”, Action Pact
When Sloan try to sound contemporary, they end up sounding very dated.
“So Far So Good”, Commonwealth
“Did you learn nothing from 5 seasons of The Wire” is a great line.
“Your Dreams Have Come True”, Pretty Together
Great for naps.
“Living the Dream”, Parallel Play
The drums stomp over a pretty nice song.
“I Love A Long Goodbye”, Pretty Together
McCartney-esque, but like late ‘80s McCartney.
“Waiting For Slow Songs”, Between the Bridges
“Before the End of the Race”, Never Hear the End of It
At just over 2 minutes long, it still takes forever to get to the chorus.
“Never Seeing the Ground for the Sky”, Pretty Together
It’s always nice to see a little weirdness poke through.
“I Was Wrong”, Action Pact
Sloan writes a Strokes song.
“Traces”/“Follow The Leader”/“Unkind”, The Double Cross
The three most tolerable songs on Double Cross.
“Burn for It”, Parallel Play
Meh, I’d rather not.
“Someone I Can Be True With”, Never Hear the End of It
“Someone to watch Gremlins 2 with, and someone to not watch The View with” made me laugh.
“The Dogs”, Parallel Play
Sounds like a 4-minute sigh.
“You Don’t Need Excuses to Be Good”, Commonwealth
Would be a lot worse if not for that Murphy charm.
“False Alarm”, Action Pact
A passable rock song.
“Ready for You”, Action Pact
The ironic thing about Action Pact is that it’s just kind of boring.
“The Great Wall”, Pretty Together
Very indicative of Sloan’s middle period in that it is not a bad song, just not a very exciting one.
“Misty’s Beside Herself”, Commonwealth
“You Know What It’s About”, Never Hear the End of It
What is with all the midi-flute?
“Take Good Care of the Poor Boy”, Between the Bridges
A pretty solid power pop jam.
“Delivering Maybes”, Between the Bridges
Almost too cheesy but they sound like they are having a lot of fun so it’s all right.
“What’s There to Decide?”, Smeared
“Try To Make It”, A Sides Win
A Cars-sounding little number.
“A Long Time Coming”, Between the Bridges
Patrick Pentland is really good at writing these quiet, sunny tunes.
“Light Years”, Never Hear the End of It
Ferguson back at it again with those similes and metaphors!
“Cheap Champagne”, Parallel Play
One more time!
“Ana Lucia”, Never Hear the End of It
Not bad, but certainly nowhere near great.
“In The Movies”, Pretty Together
When it starts, I always think it’s going to break into the final song from School of Rock.
“Two Seater”, Smeared
A bit too angry for Sloan to pull off.
“Who Loves Life More?”, Action Pact
Another one that just plays too angry for Sloan.
“I Can’t Sleep”, Never Hear the End of It
It’s quick and weird, and it works.
“Golden Eyes”, Never Hear the End of It
Not about the seminal Nintendo 64 James Bond game but still nice and weird, and the psychiest Sloan gets.
“The Marquee and the Moon”, Between the Bridges
Reminds me of a Joel Plaskett song.
“Witch’s Wand”, Parallel Play
Jay Ferguson is definitely the most endearing member of Sloan, and how loveable this track is proof.
“All Used Up”, A Sides Win
The musical equivalent of a Jagerbomb.
“You’ve Got A Lot On Your Mind”, Commonwealth
By far the catchiest song on Commonwealth.
“Take It In”, Smeared
That chorus is pure ‘90s gold.
“Lucky for Me”, Smeared
Sloan shreds the gnar.
“I Wanna Thank You”, Navy Blues
The worst song on Navy Blues, it’s just too sweet, a problem that Ferguson runs into a lot.
“Stand By Me, Yeah”, Navy Blues
Friends are great!
“The Rest of My Life”, Action Pact
“One thing I know about the rest of my life, I know that I’ll be living it in Canada” is why this song is where it is on the list.
“If It Feels Good Do It”, Pretty Together
This song is for people who know what rock and roll is about.
“Live The Life You’re Dreaming Of”, Never Hear the End of It
Chris Murphy totally calls himself a bro in this song.
“Take the Bench”, One Chord to Another
This is a really good song, on an album of really great songs.
“I’m Not Through With You Yet”, Navy Blues
A quiet, acoustic coda on Navy Blues, contrasting the big, 1970s-rock all over the album.
“Who Taught You To Live Like That?”, Never Hear the End of It
Handclaps, gang vocals on the chorus and Ferguson hot on the mic.
“Left of Centre”, Smeared
Someone’s been practicing their Lou Reed impression.
“Can’t Face Up”, One Chord to Another
I’m a sucker for that bass line.
“Sinking Ships”, Navy Blues
Andrew Scott sounds like he had a lot of fun on Navy Blues.
“Worried Now”, Twice Removed
The worst song on Twice Removed is better than over a hundred other Sloan songs. This one just plays a bit too whiny.
“Pretty Voice”, Peppermint EP
Jay Ferguson writes a mean pop song.
“Something’s Wrong”, Never Hear the End of It
I get sucked in by gang vocals every time. They just sound like they are having so much fun!
“400 Metres”, One Chord to Another
Andrew Scott grins and smirks his way through this piano-driven number.
“Iggy and Angus”, Navy Blues
What I love about Navy Blues is that they really sound like they’re having a great time. “Iggy and Angus” is the perfect example of this with riffs all over the place and the bass “rompatomping”.
“Loosens”, Twice Removed
The polar opposite of “Iggy and Angus”, this melancholy tune wanders around, as Pentland wistfully sings.
“Forty-Eight Portraits”, Commonwealth
One of the few times Sloan says a swear.
“Keep on Thinkin’”, Navy Blues
This album is literally all bangers.
“Flying High Again”, Never Hear the End of It
The perfect intro song, everyone gets a little spotlight.
“Chester the Molester”, Navy Blues
Chris Murphy is a goofball.
“Nothing Left to Make Me Want to Stay”, One Chord to Another
Murphy at his dreamiest.
“Set In Motion”, Never Hear the End of It
When is Sloan going to write a rock opera?
“Suppose They Close the Door”, Navy Blues
Oh wait they already did. Think “A Quick One While He’s Away”.
“The N.S.”/ “So Beyond Me”/ “Don’t You Believe A Word”/ “Friendship”, Between the Bridges
Sloan would use the one song melting into the next technique a lot in their career, but never really as good as the opening to Between the Bridges.
“Median Strip”, Smeared
Oh so fuzzy, plus some primo Murphy vocals.
“Before I Do”, Twice Removed
This epic slowly builds and builds until it is an unrecognizable sonic haze.
“C’mon C’mon”, Navy Blues
I once saw Jay Ferguson in Kensington Market with his bike and a loaf of bread under his arm. He looked as pleasant as this song sounds.
“Snowsuit Sound”, Twice Removed
I’m immediately a sad, weird 13-year-old again.
“A Side Wins”, One Chord to Another
This song is all piano, and it rules.
“Torn”, Peppermint EP
This song rips.
“Emergency 911”, Parallel Play
Short and punky, hell yeah.
“Anyone Who’s Anyone”, One Chord to Another
Fun Sloan is the best Sloan.
“On the Horizon”, Navy Blues
It’s got horns, bouncing basslines, some Keith Moon flair on the drums and Scott’s gnarly vocals.
“Pick It Up And Dial It”, Pretty Together
Chris Murphy is definitely the star of Pretty Together.
“Fading Into Obscurity”, Never Hear the End of It
A surprisingly thoughtful tune, as Murphy reflects on falling away from the spotlight.
“Junior Panthers”, One Chord to Another
Ferguson can make your heart melt with the best of them.
“Deeper Than Beauty”, Twice Removed
Fun, scrappy and Murphy’s a charming asshole.
“Everything You’ve Done Wrong”, One Chord to Another
Those horns were my alarm clock for like three years.
The term “face melting” comes to mind.
“Seems So Heavy”, Navy Blues
The riff in the chorus has bigger balls then I do.
“Bells On”, Twice Removed
“If you had a funeral, I’d be there with bells on” cuts deep.
“Sugartune”, Smeared/Peppermint EP
This is a great pop song dressed up in grungy clothing. Like the Monkees wearing plaid.
“HFXNSHC”, Never Hear the End of It
Sloan shows more of their punk roots.
“I’m Not a Kid Anymore”, Parallel Play
I really identify with the line “The only thing scary about Halloween is that November rent is due.”
“I Am the Cancer”, Smeared
Give me that fuzz.
“I Can Feel It”, Twice Removed
Featuring Jale’s Jennifer Pierce, this is another Pentland-penned coda. Their vocals work so well together, and it’s just light-hearted enough to cleanse the palate after all the turmoil on Twice Removed.
“G Turns to D”, One Chord to Another
Chris Murphy gets a taste of his own medicine on this ripper.
“Marcus Said”, Smeared/Peppermint EP
That guitar off the top is sick.
“Autobiography”, One Chord to Another
Whenever someone refers to Sloan as “Canada’s Beatles” I immediately think of this song.
“She Says What She Means”, Navy Blues
Apparently, Chris Murphy wrote this song because he was jealous that Pentland had already written two badass rock tunes on Navy Blues.
“It’s Not the End of the World”, Never Hear the End of It
Chris Murphy’s loveliest song, hands down.
“Shame, Shame”, Twice Removed
Murphy’s poetry is on full display.
“Penpals”, Twice Removed
Sweet and goofy, everything good about Sloan.
“The Lines You Amend”, One Chord to Another
Jay Ferguson lives his dream of being a Beatle.
“500 Up”, Smeared
Baseball, girls, this is a summer jam, and they sound like best friends on the harmonies.
“The Other Man”, Pretty Together
The list could end right here and I would be fine. I love this song. One of the best songs about cuckolding by far.
“The Good in Everyone”, One Chord to Another
Sloan’s third record comes out guns blazing with this anthemic power pop tune. Pentland rocks the mic hard, with the rest of the band following suit.
“Money City Maniacs”, Navy Blues
The first time I heard this song was probably during a hockey game, sandwiched between “Thunderstruck” and “Crazy Train”, and for good reason, because “Money City Maniacs” is a perfect rock song. It’s got handclaps, face-melting guitar, one of the catchiest hooks, badass bass riffage, and one of the most perfectly timed “woos” in all of rock history. It’s perfect. Patrick Pentland is the muscle of this band.
“People of the Sky”, Twice Removed
Scott’s best Dylan-esque tune, with the Sloan drummer waxing poetic over the hypnotic rhythm of the song, dotted with a returning vocal refrain. It sounds like it has no beginning and no end, that he could go on into infinity spouting melismatic proverbs into the universe. It also has a bitching guitar solo.
“I Hate My Generation”, Twice Removed
If there could ever be a central thesis to the work of Sloan, this song would have to be it. That Lennon-McCartney back and forth again between singers, the sonic difference between the grunge vibe of the verse and the K-Tel pop vibe of the choruses, not to mention some serious spelling. Jay Ferguson is the heart of this band.
“Underwhelmed”, Smeared/Peppermint EP
“She was underwhelmed if that’s a word”. This is the song that ignited the Halifax Pop Explosion, and brought Sloan into the spotlight. An ode to that feeling when you hate someone and infatuated with them at the same time. It’s so funny, with Murphy’s wordplay at its best, while also capturing that confusing feeling. Bands could spend their whole careers not writing a song this good, and Sloan did it on their first go.
“Coax Me”, Twice Removed
I don’t think you could have taken a bigger left turn musically than what Sloan did with Twice Removed after Smeared. “Coax Me”, is a shining example of why they made the right decision. A beautiful, mournful, song about loss and death, ground not often tread by Sloan. Yet they make it sound so effortless, so natural, embracing clean tones as easily or better than the harsh ones that made them famous. “It’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans” is the greatest line in Canadian rock history.