It's no secret that on occasion in these precincts I've poked (possibly unwaranted) fun at our neighbors to the North, or as I like to call them (in the words of the the immortal Mystery Science Theater 3000 "Canada Song") those lousy stinking bacon eating Fracophonic bastards.
After all, what has Canada ever given us? Anne Murray? Gino Vanelli? Mahoganny Rush? Sheesh, they're such feebs.
Okay, that's totally unfair and I'm sorry for the snark. And all the more so because right now I'm totally blown away by "Never Hear the End of It," the audacious new album from the 100 percent Canadian pop rockers known simply as Sloan.
A colleague recently described said album to me as "sounding like side two of Abbey Road extended into infinity," and when -- understandably intrigued -- I checked it out, darned if that wasn't a pretty accurate description. Thirty songs of widely varying lengths and lyrical concerns segued together into a sort of de facto suite (or aural collage), the whole thing inhabiting a sonic and melodic landscape redolent of the Beatles, ELO, and the detritus of 60s/70s power pop. Comparisons with Guided By Voices wouldn't be off the mark, although the Sloan guys are a lot less abstract and obscure (plus there isn't a hint of a low-fi esthetic here). The bottom line, of course, is that the damn thing is both wildly ambitious and gloriously accessible, and to my jaded ears, something approaching a masterpiece -- easily the best thing of its kind since "Plants and Birds and Rocks and Things", the 1993 stunner by The Loud Family (although that one was closer to the White Album. But you get the idea).
The Sloan album, out late last year in the Great White North, has just been released in the States on Yep Roc, and you can order it here or through the band's estimable web site. Incidentally, for whatever reason, the first official video from the record is only just now being finished, but in the meantime here's an under-a-minute clip of the guys in the studio putting some final touches on the very cool album track "I Can't Sleep".
Canada -- I take it all back. You're good people.
[h/t the divine Plum P, Canadian DJ extraordinaire]