Sloan

Smeared

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Sloan's debut album, Smeared is a bit of a mess, as the group tries to combine catchy pop melodies with punky rhythms and washes of dissonant feedback borrowed straight from Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine records. Those aren't the only two influences that are apparent on Smeared -- references to all sorts of American indie rock, from the Velvet Underground to Nirvana, are scattered throughout the record. Sloan, surprisingly, can harness these diverse influences into a winning combination of sighing melodies and swirling guitars, and while the band's songwriting is occasionally a little unfocused, the best songs -- "Underwhelmed," "Two Seater," "I Am the Cancer," "What's There to Decide?" -- are quite impressive.

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