REVIEW: Sloan – peppermint (1992 EP)

SLOAN – peppermint (1992 murderecords EP)

I’m not a big fan of early Sloan.  I rarely listen to the first album Smeared (haven’t played it in years despite having two great singles on it).   I don’t really get into Sloan until their second album, the magnum opus Twice Removed.  I didn’t like them back then in 1992 at all; Sloan were the enemy.  A bunch of glasses-wearing short-hairs who pouted and didn’t play a lot of solos.  The antithesis to what I liked; and the Canadian embodiment of the kind of thing that was killing off my kind of music like a cancer!

So there’s that.  Listening to the peppermint EP today (I even hate that the title is all lowercase) still doesn’t do much for me.  “Underwhelmed” is an outstanding song, but this early slower version is just a patch on what it would later become.  I do like its lyrics, even though it contains these lines:

She skips her classes and gets good grades,
I go to my courses rain or shine,
She’s passin’ her classes,
While I attend mine.

Taken out of context, kind of lame; but the song is actually quite clever lyrically and one of their finer achievements.

Patrick Pentland’s “Sugartune” is catchy but not outstanding.  “Pretty Voice”, sung by Jay Ferguson is also one of the better tunes.  This one did not make the album Smeared for whatever reason.  It’s the first really fast upbeat song, and it has a bit of a tasty guitar riff to it.  It’s just recorded so damn muddy, as is all of peppermint.  And that’s my biggest obstacle to liking this EP.  It boils down to the sound.

Even though the band themselves are noisy and enjoy guitar squeals and feedback at this early stage, it’s not captured on tape. Instead there’s this dull roar of 90’s sounding guitars, without a lot of distinction.  I can hear bits and pieces of coolness and even genius, but only buried under the morass of the mix.

I even dislike the 90’s-indie cover art.  Boring.

2.25/5 stars

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17 comments

    1. I can pretty much assure you that you won’t like this EP. Judge it by the cover this time! Ironically they announced yesterday that they are doing a reissue and tour where they will play the entire EP. Whoop De do. Play all of the new album. It’s about 100 times better.

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  1. Hey Scott: WOOOOOOO SLOOOOOOAAAANNNNNNN!!!” Is there an echo in here?

    Well buddy, it’s understandable. It’s OK. You don’t have to like it. Me, though? I got into Sloan when they were touring Twice Removed the first time, all those years ago, when I saw them in Windsor. At the time, peppermint wasn’t all that old. So my first impression of the band was of that early sound, and from seeing those songs played live. With those two points in its favour, I like it.

    Sure, it ain’t as pretty and well-produced as their later records, but how many bands get to claim that their first EP is as good as an album they made twenty years later? Or even are still going, twenty years later? Not many. Question: How often do you play the Hip’s first record, as opposed to Up To Here? Everybody has to start somewhere, and fortunately for us, Sloan (and the Hip) got their feet under them and made pretty-sounding records you can like better.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. My vote is in favour of peppermint.

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    1. Queensryche’s EP is definitely among their best records. But that’s a different style. This lo fi 90’s stuff is not my cup of tea. I can’t think of too many band’s that have this kind of sound that I enjoy.

      Having said that I’m glad they evolved because some of the mid period records were era defining for me!

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      1. I had occasion to make a trip to our local recycling center this morning, and I was alone in the car, so I spun the peppermint EP again, to see if I noticed what you’d mentioned. I can hear that it’s muddy. The vocals are way back in the mix, as opposed to what they do now. But again, that’s apples and oranges (shaped like peppermints, apparently). It is what it was.

        But in sum, what I heard was what I’ve always heard when I play this EP – the band I saw in concert way back in 1993. And that’s alright with me.

        Another thing I like about this EP is that, whenever I play it, a different song jumps out at me as a stand-out. This time it was two, actually, Lucky For me and Torn. I must be in a punky mood. And it ties in well with their recent (limited edition) release of punk songs. Just them letting some of their roots show. Well-timed, them re-playing all of this EP at the label anniversary. Good on ’em.

        I knew you were going to come up with an example EP to counter what I said, and that conversation is potentially endless. LeBrain can always manage it! Me, I’m a fan of the lo-fi thing, with my GBV and Pavement and all the Matador bands. You don’t have to like it.

        It’s going to sound weird, but I don’t think Sloan has ever made a bad record. Bad songs, yes, but not a bad record overall. And that’s IMPRESSIVE! Since I got into them at Twice Removed (and went back to peppermint and Smeared), I’ve been consistently blown away by every effort. Each is of its time, each is chock full of harmony, musicality and clever wordplay. And for every song they write that’s beautiful and thoughtful, there’s another tune that is thoughtful and full-on rawks yer ass. I consider Sloan to be of a piece, not by individual albums, really. I know where I was when I bought each record, and I know which tours (5) I have attended. It’s all just part of a larger picture. My musical life without them would be missing a huge chunk, indeed.

        All this is rambling. You don’t have to like peppermint. That just leaves all the more for me.

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        1. I’m really glad you took the time to explain all this (even if you say it’s rambling) because when one has feelings about music, it’s always beneficial to have somebody else’s feelings to offer a counter balance.

          Therefore you are my counter balance. A job well done sir.

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        2. Here’s a comment from my buddy Chris Baker:

          “a little rough on early sloan Mike. Fair enough though, they did take a little while to hit their stride. I like Twice Removed, but I think One Chord to Another, Where Pentland stepped up to the plate is where they really took off. Also, Lucky for Me is my favourite song on Peppermint, and shows off more of Chris’ lyrical style (“but if you want to I’m all ears, that’s why I grow my hair so long”)”

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  2. Definitely the weakest entry in the Sloan catalogue, I don’t think I’ve played this one in years. They really hit their stride in the mid 90s though – Twice Removed, One Chord to Another, and Navy Blues might be their 1-2-3. 2006’s Never Hear The End of It has some fantastic stuff on it as well (fading into obscurity in particular is classic Chris Murphy). Love the 4 singer format! “She says I’m caught up in triviality, but all I really wanna know is what she thinks of me”

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    1. Hey Stephen thanks for the comment. I’m pretty much in agreement about the 3 classic 90’s albums. I really liked Between the Bridges and the Double Cross too. Double Cross is very strong!

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