Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
There might never be a eureka moment when a universally ideal digital-music model is agreed upon. Sloan doesn’t care. The release of their Hit & Run EP marked the opening of their self-run online archive and store, and only three months later, they continue to do what works for their audience and release a by-popular-demand album, B Sides Win, compiling their rare and collectable moments in one place.
Serving as an unofficial companion to their 2005 singles collection, B Sides Win boasts twenty-six tracks ranging from 1992–2008. A chronological look at some of the B-sides, compilation contributions (such as the spacey, acoustic-tinged original “Underwhelmed” from Hear and Now, one of many Halifax scene–compilation relics), and other rare goodies, B Sides Win shows why Sloan’s non-album material has always been a popular source of discussion and trade amongst diehards. Songs like Chris Murphy’s “Stood Up” and Patrick Pentland’s “Same Old Flame,” from the pre–One Chord To Another seven-inch single, seamlessly blend the classic-pop structures and lo-fi modern indie-rock textures that defined an era not only for the band but for Canadian independent music at large and aren’t just for completists. The bonus tracks from the Japanese version of 1999’s Between the Bridges—the ode to youth and KISS, “Summer’s My Season,” and the band-dissecting “At The Edge of the Scene,” streaming above—were glimpses of a musical shift that never fully took hold, and they remain a bright spot amongst this secondary catalogue. Some interesting extras include the sole track from Andrew Scott, “Helen,” a song he initially wrote as an instrumental during his time as drummer in the first incarnation of the Sadies, and Jay Ferguson’s “Are You Giving Me Back My Love” as remixed by local electro-pop outfit the Russian Futurists.
As the rarities party nears its end, a Big Star power pop sheen takes over sound-wise, a maturity and consistency that, for a bunch of B-sides, is surprising. It suits them well. The band-written song stories in the album’s digital booklet further document the well-known four-headed Sloan personality, and while the majority of these songs won’t appeal to fans only, it’s the details that make this a meaningful and exclusive gem (and a nice pre-cursor to the rumored upcoming hardcore seven-inch).