Sloan has been one of the most consistent bands of the past 20 years. This is due in part to the fact that all four members of the band are talented songwriters. Sloan’s lead guitarist Patrick Pentland celebrates his birthday today, and while he has not been as prolific as other members, he has written (and sung) some of their most beloved songs. Pentland’s first band was a heavy metal outfit called Prosecutor, which they intended to call Persecutor. Perhaps in this ill-fated act, Pentland developed his love for the big riff, which he has used to great effect on Sloan classics like “Money City Maniacs” and “If It Feels Good Do It”. He’s not all about the rock, as he has written great pop tunes like “Everything You’ve Done Is Wrong” and “Losing California”. And next year, Pentland will get one album side for his own tunes, as the upcoming Sloan album will give each member one side for their tunes. In honor of Pentland, please grab your iPod or MP3 player, hit shuffle, and share the first 10 songs that come up.
Squeeze – There at the Top (Argybargy): The closing track from Squeeze’s excellent third album. At this point, while Difford and Tilbrook were writing classic pop tracks building on ‘60s British pop tradition, they blended it with percolating rhythms that fit them into the so-called New Wave, with Jools Holland’s tinny organ adding to the charm. This song has a number of hooks.
Original Sins – Break the Chains (Move): This is from the double LP produced by Peter Buck, where the Sins mixed in more traditional riffy garage rock numbers like this one, with more varied ‘60s rock throwbacks. What I like about this is that it ‘60s inspired, but still has a fuller, robust ‘80s rock sound.
Dee King – It’s So Fine (You Can Be Wrong About the Boys – Volume 1): Not to be confused with Dee Dee (Ramone) King. This is a decent, but unexceptional British girl pop tune. This particular British girl didn’t have the strongest or most distinct voice. I guess I just uploaded this compilation in its entirety instead of skimming the highlights.
The Kinks – Come On Now (Kinda Kinks): A Chuck Berry-ish rock and roll number from the second Kinks album. Not bad, but wish the drumming was more swinging. Hard to believe in two years, Ray Davies was penning some of the most sophisticated tunes around. The Plimsouls used to play this song live.
The Rolling Stones – We Love You (Singles Collection: The London Years): An early psychedelic stab by The Rolling Stones that hit the Top 10 in England, but was the b-side to “Dandelion” in the U.S. This has that eastern, Indian vibe that The Beatles made the rage. In fact, John Lennon and Paul McCartney contributed backing vocals to the tune. The song is an interesting production, full of trippy effects. The song is a bit all over the place, coming together midway through.
Chris Hickey – Wolf’s Footprint (Release): One thing Chris Hickey does is put his vocals up front. On this one, it sounds like he’s a tad overmodulated, which gives this folk tune even more intimacy. This is typically economical with such interesting lyrics have direct phrases and more poetic turns.
Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Flutter And Wow (Momofuku): This track has a bit of a country vibe - something circa 1973, maybe a bit in the vein of Charlie Rich. But not quite like that. The melody of this mid-tempo tune is really striking, and Elvis finds a great way to get to the awesome chorus.
Bleached – Ride Your Heart (Ride Your Heart): If you like Dum Dum Girls and Best Coast, etc., this is worth checking out. Airy vocals over some rocking guitars with a cotton candy ‘60s styled melody. Heck, She And Him could probably cover this tune, but it would be a fair amount mellower.
Jim Laspesa with Michael Quercio – May I Take a Giant Step (Into Your Heart)(Right To Chews: Bubblegum Classics Revisited): A nice rocked up take on this 1910 Fruitgum Company song, with the assistance of Mr. Three O’Clock. Well done.
Madness – Take It Or Leave It (Absolutely): One of Madness’s nifty blends of ska rhythms with a classic Britpop sensibility. The band found a cool way to let the rhythms carry the songs, but then injecting them with melodies in just the right place, creating a very unique sound. As time went on, they relied less on the bluebeat, but it impacted their songwriting throughout.