Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hey Mr. Ferguson. That's a nice song.

I was going to try to do an album review but while searching through my library for a great album I got side tracked and started listening to specific songs instead.

I've been a Sloan fan for quite some time but I've only recently discovered that of the four members (all of whom write and perform songs on each album) I find Jay Ferguson to be the most consistent. That's not to say I don't like the other members because they all have songs that make it on my playlists. Here are a few gems that he's contributed to the world of music.


The first selection is "Witch's Wand" from "Parallel Play" which I originally regarded to be a so so album but the more I've been listening the more I've discovered how good it is. This is the case for most Sloan albums.

It's got all the ingredients of a great rock song along with some soft harmonies and a smart bridge the latter of which seems beyond the reach of most groups making albums today. Thanks to à la carte digital music buying you're not forced to buy an entire album for one song though it would be okay in this instance because there are some great songs on there.

Number two is from "Never Hear The End Of It" which was an interesting Sloan album to say the least. What was a change of pace for the band still yielded the same strong tracks that make their older albums so easy to listen to over and over.

"Before The End Of The Race" is one of those songs that takes a few listens to really appreciate what is going on. The Beatles-esque beginning gives way to a song that is 100% Jay with lyrics that make me depressed that I can't come up with words that are even a fraction as good as these. Sloan occasionally likes to forgo a traditional chorus but they really don't need it as is evident here.

"Between The Bridges" is my favorite Sloan album. I like it so much I performed it in its entirety during one of my few solo shows back in California. "Take Good Care Of The Poor Boy" is a great studio track but is also great live as is evident below. This is from Troubadour in Hollywood where I've seen them numerous times. Sadly this show occurred after I moved to Nebraska.

I stand in awe of this song. It's so simple that it would seem anybody could do it just as well if not better but as somebody that's done an acoustic version I can attest that's not the case. This song goes to prove that a good bridge is more than enough to make you forget that there isn't a guitar solo. You may have noticed that I'm a sucker for a good bridge.

I'm going to slow it down a bit with "Junior Panthers" which was a bonus track from "One Chord To Another."

I love the restraint with this one. Everything is dialed back so far it keeps you on the edge of your seat or at least that's what it does for me. The harmonies are a particular treat here and do such a good job of transitioning with enough dissonance to make the every further note more meaningful.

While Ferguson's songs seem to legitimize every Sloan album I often forget that he uses Chris Murphy as one of his sharpest tools. "Who You Talkin' To?" was my gateway to the Jay Ferguson song. Here's a live version of it.

The only problem with live recordings is that dynamically you lose what the album has. Honestly, you should just buy the song and listen to it. I'll bet it sounds incredible on vinyl.

If you doubt what I have ascertained about Jay's songwriting ability here is he showing how and why you can't write a song as good as he does. I'll forgive the capo because "Cheap Champagne" is awesome.


  1. I've never been that big on Sloan, honestly. Their songs just aren't catchy enough for me. There are a handful that I really do enjoy but they didn't make this list.

  2. Maybe I'll do a "Best of Chris Murphy" list so your favorites will make it.