The Royal Pick for October 20, 2014: SLOAN at the Tractor Tavern
It's easy to use the term "Beatle-esque" to compare any group with multiple songwriters and a decent grasp of vocal harmonies to the Fab Four, but it's definitely not an unfair comparison with Toronto's Sloan. Having just celebrated their twenty year anniversary as a band, Sloan has a surplus of gems in their catalog that they could easily rest on; they've been around long enough to know their strengths and define their sound, but they're still ambitious enough to push at those boundaries and continue to re-define their own rich legacy in the pop universe.
Take, for example, Sloan's new double LP (Commonwealth). Taking a conceptual nod from Kiss' solo albums, each member of the band takes on a side of the LP, with results ranging from pristine, baroque pop to gauzy shoegaze to the expansive 18 minute long "Fourty-Eight Portraits", which builds from the clanging clatter of machine shop parts up into a rolling, spacy boil and glides along through multiple mini-movements that form together seamlessly. While a lot of power pop artists have dedicated their careers to being fantastic at one particular trick, Sloan is a four-headed monster of songwriters. Those four distinct voices and approaches to pop songcraft compliment and conflict with each other, but hearing a band 22 years into their career embrace that struggle (especially with the segmented nature of Commonwealth) is a rare and beautiful thing indeed.
Basically, if you miss this show, you're a knucklehead.
Also, please tune in next month for an episode of the Royal Basement podcast featuring Sloan!
Sloan plays at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle, WA on October 20, 2014. Tickets are $15.