Slark Moan is the New York based, indie rock band conceptualized by multi-instrumentalist Mark Sloan, Jr. His music is a nod to the dry drum sounds and pop sensibilities of the 1960s and ‘70s, infused with the lyrical experimentation and low-fy rebelliousness of indie bands of the 90s and 2000s. The music is a stiff cocktail, one part Harry Nilsson, one part Pavement, with a dash of Albert Lee for good measure. It reaches out to an alternate universe, where George Harrison and Jeff Mangum spend their weekends together hunched over a four track in a basement.
Sloan spent the last decade as a hired gun guitarist in Nashville and has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in the Americana and country music scene. The hot telecaster guitar style that Sloan developed during those early Nashville years seeps into his live show, complimenting his melodic intuition and the colorful harmonic landscape of his songs. Sloan’s debut album “Superstition For the Consumer Romantic” released in late 2019, received praise from American Songwriter Magazine and NPR affiliate KCRW. The album was a concept record, which Sloan describes as, “largely dissecting one's search for validation within this superficial capitalistic culture.”
Following the release, Slark Moan embarked on a nationwide tour playing over 50 shows in 22 states. The tour abruptly came to an end in early March 2020 when news of the global pandemic broke and the threat of a national shutdown hung in the air.
“I had just played San Diego, and was in the middle of the desert when I realized the gravity of the situation” Sloan recalls. “I was 2000 miles from home and would have to cancel the rest of the tour. So, I put on a podcast and drove through the night until I found a place to stash my car and flew the rest of the way back.”
Once home, Sloan quickly watched the world, and his industry, come to a halt. No one would be playing shows anytime soon. Rather than accepting stagnation in his 500 sq foot apartment, he dove into a new creative direction and started writing and recording with prolificacy never before experienced. “At first, I think it was a way to cope with being out of work and facing so much uncertainty, but soon I started to see an album taking shape. A sort of emotional narrative that reaches for clarity and acceptance, even if it never fully arrives.”
What came out of a year of solitude and cathartic wood shedding is Slark Moan’s best work yet. “Four Horses,” a record born out of an apocalypse, inverts perspective to an examination of catastrophes on the micro level. The lyrics grapple with the loss of dreams, plans, and control, all aspects of the journey that made each of us feel like our world was ending. Sloan reminds us that the passage of time is cruelly yet beautifully irreversible, stretching out a hand as we walk through our own internal apocalypse and grapple with the reality that the world will never be the same.
Through 12 infectiously catchy and harmonically stimulating guitar driven songs, Sloan puts our perceptions under the microscope and navigates our reactions to the deeply uncertain ecosystem we inhabit. Within the symbiotic dichotomy of chaos and control, Sloan carves out a space for the most defeated among us, and assures us that we can turn defeat into the double-edged sword of acceptance; it can cut us down and wound our most intimate hopes and dreams, or it can defend us from what we can’t control, fortify our fragile psyche, and foster an environment of internal growth impervious to bombardment from an external world. “Four Horses” meets us somewhere in the middle and attempts to guide us out of the dark tunnel, reminding us there is still light, even if it’s faint.