Sloan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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These Canadian popsters are yet another talented act--like Eleventh Dream Day or They Might Be Giants--that's thriving in the ruins of a major-label deal. DGC released Sloan's noisy debut album, Smeared, in '93, but lost interest after a second release, Twice Removed, that sounded more like the Beach Boys than Soundgarden. The group disbanded briefly in 1995 but then came roaring back on their own Murderecords label: both One Chord to Another (1996) and the masterful Navy Blues (1998) seamlessly fuse 90s hard rock with the giant harmonies, moody keyboards, and superstar flash of early-70s power-pop idols like Wings, Utopia, Badfinger, and Big Star. The band's latest release, the punningly titled Between the Bridges, is their most accomplished recording but also their most self-conscious. Lyrically, as their Web page explains in excruciating detail, it's a concept album about the members leaving provincial Halifax to become international rock stars (so if you run into these guys on the street, act like you've heard of them). Musically, the references are more blatant than ever before: "The N.S." opens the record with Nicky Hopkins-style Fender Rhodes, cuts to the funereal piano and slap-back drums of John Lennon's "Mother," unrolls a vibrant Pete Ham chorus, and ends by quoting the "say bye-bye" call-and-response from Paul McCartney's "Helen Wheels." Sloan's self-deification can be a little hard to swallow (the interior of the CD package is wallpapered with hundreds of little Sloan figures, a la 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong), but as long as they keep making records as tuneful as this one, I guess they can strike all the poses they want. Friday, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Richard Beland.

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