No ignoring The Beatles’ influence on this band

Jay N. Miller

The rock band Sloan doesn’t mind it if their sound is described as Beatles-like. In fact, they embrace it, said guitarist Patrick Pentland.

“It’s not frustrating to always be compared to The Beatles, and we know writers must describe what a band sounds like in some sort of context,” Pentland said.

Sloan is touring with another Beatles-influenced band, also Canadian, as The Golden Dogs from Toronto open for Nova Scotia’s Sloan.

The Golden Dogs skew toward the 1960s garage rock side of the Moptops style, while Sloan veers all over the map.

“We have many influences, but it is hard to get away from that Beatles influence,” said Pentland from his Toronto home. “I think as a band with similar harmonies, chords, and progressions in our songs, it’s unavoidable. But the Beatles played such a wide range of music, and their influence can be heard in so many different bands today.”

Sloan’s album, “Parallel Play,” was released on Yep Roc Records on Tuesday. It’s the band’s second album for the Chapel Hill indie label, after last year’s epic, 30-track “Never Hear the End of It.” That brings the number of new tunes to 43 over the past year. And if that sounds like a prolific band, that’s because Sloan’s four members all play multiple instruments and write songs. Along with Pentland, Sloan’s lineup includes Jay Ferguson, Andrew Scott and Chris Murphy.

“I think you will hear ska, postpunk, new wave and punk influences on this record of ours, because we’re fans of all kinds of music,” Pentland said.

He said he doesn’t think there’s ever been a band that didn’t take advantage of its forebears, and that’s what gives continuity and connection.

“It’s fun to show your influences, but you are, at the same time, trying to write new, original music that doesn’t just copy someone else,” Pentland said.

The new album is a tantalizing sample of Sloan’s magic, with plenty of variety. Ferguson’s dreamy Beach Boys buoyancy on “Cheap Champagne” and “If I Could Change Your Mind” is leavened by Pentland’s gritty rock on tunes like “Burn For It,” which has a John Lennon lyrical bite in lines like “I got a barbed wire heart, and you can handle it.” Scott’s perky “Emergency 911” is blitz tempo postpunk, but his “The Dogs” is a gauzy reverie that could be a Sergeant Pepper outtake.

Murphy’s tunes might come closest to classic guitar rock like the Liverpool Lads’, and the harmonies on “All I Am Is All You’re Not” stand with the best of Oasis or Coldplay.

“I think that’s what rock music is, re-interpreting what’s come before,” said Pentland. “Whether it is the Rolling Stones accused of ripping off Muddy Waters, or us accused of ripping off the Stones and the Beatles, part of it is just learning the style. It’s not like you’re always improving the music, but you’re always helping it grow into something else.

“Take the Flaming Lips, who took that old Beatles melodic formula and threw in drum beats or synthesizers. Even Black Sabbath: Ozzy Osbourne is a huge Beatles fans and his ballads are very McCartney-like on paper, just done as heavy metal. I think it is interesting today how many bands are incorporating postpunk and new wave into their sounds. It’s not like they’re stealing anything, or copying someone, it’s more like taking the same letters and forming new words.”

Sloan is no overnight sensation, with 17 years and a handful of fine albums. The band had a major label deal with Geffen Records 15 years ago, and released two CDs. Sloan labored on with its own label after that, releasing CDs every year or so and building a solid grassroots fan base.

Foos play Wembley

No doubt a watershed moment for The Foo Fighters last weekend (June 6-7), as Dave Grohl and company played two sold-out shows at London’s Wembley Stadium, before a total of 165,000 fans.

The Saturday show was capped by a guest appearance from Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, who joined Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins for crunching versions of Led Zep favorites “Rock and Roll” and “Ramble On.”

Dylan for KG

You have to say Jakob Dylan is brave, as the longtime Los Angeles resident admitted to being a Lakers fan in the midst of Sunday night’s set at the Paradise in Boston.

But he quickly added he was also a serious fan of Celtic Kevin Garnett, so his loyalties are divided in this year’s NBA championship.

Simply Red turns blue

Not so long ago, Simply Red was one of the more tantalizing blue-eyed soul groups to emerge from the United Kingdom. They’ve been off the charts for a while, but now lead singer Mick Hucknall is back with a fabulous new project.

“Tribute to Bobby,” due to be released on Rhino Records on Tuesday, is Hucknall’s paean to Bobby “Blue” Bland, often considered the Frank Sinatra of the blues. Bland is now in his late 70s and battling health woes, but Hucknall’s record features hip new arrangements of classics like “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby,” “Yolanda,” and “Stormy Monday.”

If you aren’t familiar with his past work, rest assured Hucknall has major league pipes, and does a commendable job. There’s also a documentary about Bland and the project, due on BET in July.

Jay N. Miller covers popular music. Send him e-mail at, attn: Music Scene in the subject line.