Spaceship Days

Spaceship Days

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's in a Name?

  Recently, I came across a band with a fabulously cool moniker. Alas, they didn't really do anything to top off my tea cup, but I'd be remiss to not give the group points for being obvious fans of one of my favorite books.  Any artist that likes Dune is at least worth a listen.

  From time to time, the members of Spaceship Days will talk about band names we wish we'd thought of  (30 Seconds to Mars, Our Lady Peace and Birds of Tokyo come to mind)  Quite often, we will hit the pause button on the goings on of our everyday lives to listen to a the songs of a troupe with a title that stands up and waves its arms for our attention. It seems many of our friends do this as well, which begs the question: How important is the name of a band?

  Our musical adventure has been going on for quite some time now, and confidentially, our Naming was something that took quite a bit of trial and error. One name had a number; one had a not especially pleasant emotion. Our first even had the word "neo" in it, but most were just too silly to bear repeating.

  Throughout the course of popular music, artists have been fairly clever about labeling themselves. Band names have been majestic  - Queen;  descriptive - The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, or Steely Dan ; inspirational - Man Up Nancy! ; nonsensical - Toad the Wet Sprocket, Spacehog ; First names - Bjork; last names - Bon Jovi, Van Halen or (gasp!) Winger; verbs - Rush; or even Italian phrases about interesting food - Cibo Matto.  Every title has a story ; sometimes finding it out is a neat part of the experience, but its a safe bet to assume when christening one's group, anything goes.

  Personally, I prefer an appellation  that doesn't give a way too much. I don't want to look at the artist title on a CD and know that they're  in going to be screaming at me, or that they like the Beatles, or even if the prefer keyboards over guitars.  I like to be surprised when I hear new music--or at least allowed to stay unbiased. As a fanboy, its always better to hear the songs without expectation.  

  We made our way to the Designation:   Spaceship Days  by listening to the music of our favorite band (click on the link to hear the song that inspired us!) Considering the lyrical content of the tune, we thought it was a good fit -- the fact that it was the first name we ever had that we thought would look cool on a t-shirt helped too.

  It took us awhile, but the three of us are quite glad to finally be able to tell someone what we call ourselves without wincing. As far as the tunes go, we think the name gives a chance to listen with open ears too.

C

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sometimes you win. Sometimes, well...

The smartest person I know ( I like to call her Mom) once told me: "You can't please everybody, so don't worry yourself by trying."

  Like all Mom advice, this piece was great. It made High School a breeze, and the transition to playing music for people who didn't know me from third base fairly smooth too.  Naturally, Spaceship Days has adopted this philosophy as well, and its proven to be a good thing.

 Now, as a band we've never been shy about sharing our good news. Its only fair that we share the not so good bits too.


Here's a piece. Hold on tight.


C

+++
Artist: Spaceship Days
Album: Black Holes & Butterflies
Review by Ian Wise

Rating: 1 star (out of 5)
   North Carolina’s Spaceship Days have a long, storied past that shares an unfortunate lack of interest with their album Black Holes & Butterflies. The album shines with the slick production of similarly bland acts walking through the revolving door of one-hit-wonders on the adult contemporary charts. The songs are intentionally “catchy,” which makes them forgettable and barely distinguishable from songs penned for the current crop of Disney stars.

  The albums opener, “Hanging From the Satellites,” starts with an acoustic guitar augmented by a few delayed guitar tones. The first two lines give way to the perfectly timed kick-in for the drums, when the song goes “full force.” The melody is executed adequately from a singer with an obviously good vocal range. The singer is a strong tenor and his voice rings clearly with every note, and in the bridge he briefly goes into a falsetto without any hint of strain. The lyrics, however, provide no strength to the song, as they dance around any sort of concrete subject. The second verse explains “There's a beauty in the innocence/beneath the skin/bulletproof/raise the roof/now the show begins/never wanna’ stop/whatever it is that we got,” which effectively says nothing except that the band needed a second verse in the song. The guitars are slightly overdriven with a heavy dose of delay that floats between the stereo channels in a vaguely Wallflowers-esque style.

  “Stick on Stars” is, if nothing else, tailored for the radio with a heavy-handed bid for inclusion in the next Kidz Bop compilation. The melody has more in common with Hillary Duff than the alternative acts from which the band claims influence. The arrangement is of the bare-bones “verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge” school, and the production has all the correctly placed background vocals and two note guitar inflections, lost amongst the digital processing. The lyrics are, again, too vague to provide the listener with anything of value. Whatever the message the singer is trying to convey is lost in weak, half developed metaphors and clich├ęs. 

  A ballad, “The Pain in Pretty Things” is substantially more interesting than most of the cuts on the disc. The string section is produced well and adds a much-needed sense of character to the song that is lost in most of the other arrangements. The build up is well done, but the steady drum beat after the first verse pulls the song back into a blander pop mood that could have been avoided if the band had decided to build on the concept introduced at the beginning of the song.

  “Ghost of California” is a hazy representation of subtle UK rock in the vein of Snow Patrol. The melody is still sugary sweet and the arrangement still staunchly safe, but the bouncy drum beat and warm bass tone behind the walking line is a welcome change from the rest of the album. The cut is less slick than the rest of the tracks, but its less standard delivery makes it the most likely candidate for a single.

  Spaceship Days may be poised for commercial success in a flash-in-the-pan sense. The songs are well produced, but they are meticulously crafted into a pre-designed molds and lack anything that makes them unique or memorable. Black Holes & Butterflies is so tailored to an audience of everyone that it lacks the ability to reach anyone, and makes it more like the dollar CD bin at your local record shop than a substantial artistic effort. The music is as much of a product as the CD is pressed on, and offers little in the way of consequence.

Review by Ian Wise 
Ian Wise is has been a contributor to American Music Press, Hails and Horns, and Razorcake.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Eureka!

  We're certain you've heard this before: "The internet is the best place to find new music."
 Its the Truth, and nearly as absolute as the inability to draw a perfect circle. One day people with have this knowledge bestowed unto them moments after leaving the womb, but until then Spaceship Days will send out reminders from time to time. OK?
 Case in point: Porcupine Tree
 Not since our we were favored with the sonic wonder that is Catherine Wheel have we heard a band whose sound completely lifted us up and swept us away to heights of such auditory euphoria.
Our recommendation: Turn out the lights, lie down, turn it up & drift away.


M, C, & G

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Year That Will Be...

2011.

Its still sort of funny, looking at those numbers all strung together; I spent most of my youth thinking that Skynet would have taken over the world by now. Still--here we are, a few days deep into a new decade. Long enough to recover from celebrations, break those resolutions, and go back to work.

Like most, Spaceship Days has a lengthy to-do list for the coming year. We plan on finishing up our new EP Welcome to the Plastic Empire, and continuing our series of collaborations with Marcel Agterhuis (who has done work with Duran Duran, Coldplay, & Depeche Mode). We're going to enjoy being on the All Artists Galactic Records compilation Aliens & Humans Collide.  We'll probably make another video, and even write a blog or two.  I personally resolve to finally break down and purchase that acoustic bass I've been pining over, uness of course someone wants to slide one over to us on the next Spaceship Days gift giving holiday (there are two in June)

 Our list also includes some of the hopes we have for others.  We hope our siblings all reach their own goals this year. We hope S finally gets started on her solo album. We hope our wives win the lottery.

 So too, have we hopes for our music - type friends. For many of them, we think 2011 will be a great year, and we'll be on the lookout for the news.  

...we've got our ears on you.

  Ultimately though, one can never tell what the future will bring. All you can do is prepare for it as best you can, then charge ahead face first, with your eyes on the prize and a song on your lips. As for the year that will be...check back with us in twelve months so we can tell you how it went.


C