Sloan’s Jay Ferguson tells us about his favorite songs of 2021
Canadian alt-rock greats Sloan celebrated their 30th anniversary this year, releasing the second volume of their B-Sides Win compilations, along with the first vinyl release of their 2013 hardcore tribute covers album. The band have finished recording their 13th studio album which they're about to mix and hopefully release before the end of 2022. Stay tuned for more details on that.
We've been asking artists for their end-of-year lists, and here is Sloan guitarist/singer Jay Ferguson's Top 11 Songs of 2021. Jay might be the most avid, active music fan in the band -- he managed to get a job as a record store clerk when he was 12 -- and that passion remains to this day. Check out his list and commentary for each pick below.
Sloan's Jay Ferguson - Top 11 Songs of 2021
1. The Hawks - "Bullfighter"
One of my favourite "new" songs of 2021 was recorded over 40 years ago. From UK’s The Hawks’ collection of unreleased recordings, Obviously 5 Believers, this profoundly catchy, well arranged jaunty rocker would have likely fit nicely on Postcard Records circa ’81. Great for the world to have it now. Featuring very fine writing by a post-Duran Duran/pre-“Tin Tin”/Lilac Time Stephen Duffy and a pre-Jacobites Dave Kusworth.
2. The Lemon Twigs - "Corner Of My Eye"
I was already looking forward to their next LP, but this live preview seals the deal. Inspiring and exceptional songwriters. I'm always a fan of duets within bands ala "We Can Work It Out" or "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" and this melodically supreme song fits the bill nicely.
3. Dry Cleaning - "Scratchcard Lanyard"
I imagine this is on many lists this year, and understandably as it resides in a special world where wonderful British eccentricity, surrealism and early PiL live harmoniously.
4. Heron & Crane - "Fogline"
Music for gliding down a scenic highway and/or the Autobahn. Alternately, put this on the turntable and chores will get done! Like a Michael Rother record produced by Sean O’Hagan, but actually a pair of long time American friends who’ve made much fine music together and apart, and now they’re here making some of the best that they’ve made.
5. The Weather Station - "Parking Lot"
Once you’ve finished listening to "Fogline," continue rolling down the coastal highway with Tamara Lindeman's unwinding lyric and it's windows-down metronomic beat.
6. TUNS - "My Memories"
It’s a bit of a roll-the-dice scenario choosing a song from this fine record, but to avoid pure nepotism in broad daylight [Sloan's Chris Murphy is in this band - Ed], I’m going with Mike O’Neill’s economically catchy “My Memories”.
7. Fana Hues - "Pieces"
Being out-of-touch just enough to not realize she was on the latest Tyler The Creator LP, I stumbled across this fine track over at Line Of Best Fit. Short and bittersweet melodic soul with a cool sparse backing and production. Call Her Ms Hues.
8. The Junior League - "Not My Time"
My friend Joe Adragna has been making records under the moniker The Junior League for many years. His latest, Bridge and Tunnel, is a collection of songs with the subject matter of New York City (and surrounding areas) running through as a loose thread. Inadvertently or by design, this unique collaborative track with Casey McAllister doubles down on that theme by evoking the rarefied air of a fruitful mid-60s Brill Building collaboration.
9. ABBA - "I Still Have Faith In You"
One has to hand it to ABBA for not updating their sound to satisfy an imagined market or working with any one of the producers-du-jour who'd likely have flown to Sweden in a pandemic heartbeat to assist. They’ve simply reappeared in their natural form as if the if their last LP The Visitors was released in very recent memory. Long form pop with interesting structure and overlapping parts, and again still writing about their developing relationships with each other 40 years on.
10. Polite Society - "The Medusa Malfunction"
Rockers from up here in Canada who are steeped in the UK's musical glory years of ’68-’71. Another track with arresting structure and a wonderful two-songs-in-one style. Garrod and Lofthouse rock.
11. Motorists - "Through To You"
Intended or not, with this track these lads have done an excellent job conjuring that tough-but-thin guitar pop sound that found its home on U.S. independent 7” labels like Car Records or Ork circa 1979 -1981. Even singer/guitarist Craig Fahner’s Van Duren-ish ’77 Memphis-style look in this track's video homage to Beat Club is perhaps an indication where further inspiration lays for them to carry into the future. Good lord, have I made enough nerdish references yet? Please forgive me. These guys are here now. Just enjoy the music.