Song In My Head #20: “Step On It, Jean” by Sloan

After all these months, the question is obvious. What took me so long to feature my favorite band in the “Song In My Head” slot? In my defense, I did include some Sloan-related Easter eggs in earlier posts. (Green Gables, King Library, and the Beach Boardwalk are promising places to search, hint, hint.) Honestly, it’s hard to know where to begin with the quartet, and I mean that in the best of ways. Since forming in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1991, Sloan has shown remarkable consistency over the course of eleven studio albums. All four (original!) members write and sing, so there tend to be intriguing stylistic jumps from album to album, and from song to song on each record. From the shoegaziness of 1992’s Smeared to the experimental solo suites of last year’s Commonwealth, there are many delights to explore. Happily, the glorious harmonies and catchy songcraft are constants in any era.

Today’s choice is a bonus track from a fairly atypical Sloan album, 2003’s Action Pact. I love “Step On It, Jean” for Jay Ferguson’s sparkling vocal, a shockingly Muppety drum break from Andrew Scott, and beautiful harmonies by Chris Murphy and Patrick Pentland. That ascending “ah” at the end makes me sigh without fail. (In 2004, I had the distinct pleasure of co-interviewing Ferguson for Scram. I asked him if that part was a nod to the Brazilian Tropicalia genre. He replied that Murphy and co-producer Ian McGettigan thought of the “ah,” so I’d have to ask one of them. Sadly, I become so goofily starstruck whenever I see the band after a show that I have forgotten to ask on multiple occasions.) I have no idea where the following video came from (I imagine it’s made by a fan, as the images cut out with forty seconds remaining), but since the mix sounds perfect, I’m happy to have it nonetheless. Enjoy!

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