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Commonwealth (Yep Roc)


Sloan at the Marquee Ballroom
Saturday, March 7

Halifax's most enduring rock export this side of April Wine, Sloan carries on a quest for the perfect hook. On its latest, the four make their practice of contributing individual songs more territorial, each taking a quarter of the running time, a reduced version of the four Kiss members' albums in 1978. This works pretty smoothly until we get to drummer Andrew Scott's 17-minute opus "Forty-Eight Portraits," even though some of the finest playing is contained herein. The track transitions from experiment to sock hop to rant to prog to children's chorus. Scott is the contrarian in the pop machine ambitions of the other three and ultimately makes the album more substantial. Jay Ferguson's command of 1970s FM rock has rarely been as evident as on the ballad "Three Sisters," highlighted by a sublimely precise guitar solo/dialogue. Chris Murphy comes off as the sensitive one with his musings on motivations in "You Don't Need Excuses to be Good." That's a lot of syllables to stick above a backbeat. The balls-out Keith Richards rocker is Patrick Pentland's "Keep Swinging (Downtown)," destined for a mega-mix with "Money City Maniacs." Sloan has indeed kept swinging—not too much, it is hoped, at each other.

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