Spaceship Days

Spaceship Days

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Word on the Street: A "Black Holes And Butterflies" Review

Artist:  Spaceship Days
Album Title:  Black Holes And Butterflies
Review by Rhonda Readence
Rating:  4 stars (out of 5)

Friends since childhood, Chuck Cox (bass) Matt Mocharnuk (vocals), and Greg Torsone (everything else) have compiled their talents into a creative endeavor titled Spaceship Days.  Their album Black Holes and Butterflies is an eleven-track journey into the hearts and minds of these creative individuals and an excursion into melodic alternative pop.  The album starts with “Hanging From The Satellites,” a wonderful introductory track with a Third Eye Blind essence to it.  The lyrics are full of optimism and vivid imagery.  Listeners will adore the contagious rhythm of this piece and the soft comfort it brings.

“Stick On Stars” will likely be a fan favorite with excellent vocal harmonizing, haunting lyrics, and exceptional musicianship.  The sound quality is high and the overall feel of this track is one of polished professionalism with an artistic flair that is enviable.  “Shadow Walking” begins with a melody that is immediately intriguing and vocals that are again reminiscent of Third Eye Blind.  Matt gets the chance to educate us on the diversity of his vocal range in this piece and the rhythm is quietly energetic.  The lyrics carry a sense of soft melancholy and are extremely well-written.

“My Life Without You” is a beautiful love song with lyrics that will melt the heart.  The vocal delivery is full of emotion and the candid honesty of this song will give listeners an appreciation for the creative and artistic capacity of this band.  “Ghost Of California” changes the pace significantly with a faster rhythm and a catchy drumbeat.  The vocals sound slightly distant, which allows the listener to focus more on the instrumentation, which is spectacular, particularly the guitar work.  This is a solid track that fans will wait eagerly to see performed live.

“Pain In Pretty Things” is a darkly melodic piece that immediately brings to mind the song “Mad World” by Tears For Fears.  With thoughtful and deep lyrics, this song is brimming with emotion and candor.  The instrumentation is excellent and this is an amazingly well-composed piece of music.  “A Little Extraordinary” pretty much sums up this track with its title.  Except it should be a LOT extraordinary.  Full of optimism and hope, this track embodies the very essence of this collective.  Wonderfully produced, the sound quality is the icing on the cake.

Black Holes and Butterflies flows on with “Big World Pop Star,” a song that begins with a nice drumbeat and a slick guitar lick that catches the attention.  The vocals are spot on, as usual, and Spaceship Days carries this harmonious melody exceedingly well.  “Something Perfect” begins as an up-tempo track with a rhythm that will get legions of fans bopping to the beat.  As with most of the songs on the album, this piece carries a romantic vibe to it with hauntingly beautiful lyrics.  Fans of Catherine Wheel should be delighted with this offering.  “Sweet Suffocation” is the classic Spaceship Days song, containing intelligent and thoughtful lyrics, consistently professional musicianship, and an aura of optimistic hopefulness.  This artist has the ability to create emotional songs, without seeming overly emotional, and melancholy pieces without being sad.  They are also able to give a sense of possibility; the idea that anything can happen at any moment and that life is full of wonder.

The album closes with “Last Kiss on Earth,” a stellar piece full of exceptional piano work, classic guitar playing, and a rhythm that cannot be replicated.  The vocals are smooth and confident, carrying forth some of the best lyrics in music today.  Spaceship Days is a band full of excellent musicians who are clearly very talented, but there are a million of those.  What set Black Holes and Butterflies apart from conventional alternative music are the lyrics and the sense of confidence and hope that this band seems to radiate.  Fans will listen to this music not so much for the music itself, although it is excellent.  They will listen to this music for the way it makes them feel.

Review written by Rhonda Readence
   --Rhonda Readence is a freelance writer based out of Cleveland Ohio who currently writes the Artist of the Week feature for Exciting City Magazine.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Shouting It From the Rooftops: A "Black Holes and Butterflies" Review

Many thanks to everyone who has helped us spread the word about Black Holes and Butterflies, making it our most successful musical venture yet. 

 Below, is another review...

Artist: Spaceship Days
Album: Black Holes and Butterflies
Review by Sarah Whited
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Deeply emotional, beautifully melancholy and touchingly orchestrated, Spaceship Days’ Black Holes and Butterflies is inescapably romantic.  Each piece is haunting and intelligent, deep and brilliant.  This album’s balance of hope and acquiescence, joy and anguish, and so many other swirling emotions, reflects the maturity level of its members.  Greg Torsone, Chuck Cox and Matt Mocharnuk have a long history together.  After years as the middling-successful band “grey”, the three friends bid each other farewell in order to pursue music in their separate ways.  However, when the trio reunited for a movie night, the resulting songwriting and jam session proved that they were destined to make music together rather than separately.  As inexorable as crossing an event horizon, yet as delicately gorgeous as velvet wings at sunset, Spaceship Days’ second album is a truly moving example of how music can strum one’s soul by appealing to a wide range of emotions simultaneously instead of focusing on one at a time. 

The post-rock, Brit-pop sound is captured in all its crystalline glory through the consistently outstanding clarity of the production.  Poignant lyrics, on par with Anthony Genn’s of British group The Hours, take the listener back to the beating heart of music: our essential need to communicate our experiences to another human.  Similar to the newly-signed Disney band, Alpha Rev, Spaceship Days combines digital guitar effects, full orchestra, timeless piano/acoustic solos, rich vocal harmonies, vivid mental images, and intricate mixing techniques.  The resulting masterpieces are not merely “tunes,” they are the confessions to the universe.  

“Hanging from the Satellites” is a gentle introduction to the album.  Unexpected chord changes surrounding the chorus add interest.  The complete key change during the chorus gives the song a literal uplift, echoing the lyrics which describe the elation of being young and feeling that even the sky is within one’s grasp.  This selection is the perfect prelude to a fun-filled yet classy night, or a great class song for a graduation ceremony.  “Shadow Walking” also carries the unmistakable fingerprint of youth in elation, combined with a sense of disconnect.  The Rhodes effect of the introductory keyboard line is an elegant way to introduce the full distortion guitars and peppy drums.  This pop song uses a major key, upbeat drums, a heavy clap effect on the 2nd and 4th beats, and innocent-sounding Rhodes-chimes for an overall effect of happiness.  However, the lyrics reflect an essentially lonely theme.  This song should have been on the top 10 charts since the day it was released. 

“Ghost of California” is a perfect winter day song, a tribute to the 1960’s classic “California Dreaming.”  Although this song is a strong selection by the standards of other bands, it does not have the undeniable appeal that the two aforementioned songs have.  The extremely simple drums seem repetitive after the first verse, and the flute echo of the lead guitar line is almost too close to “California Dreaming” for comfort.  That said, this song is still a beautiful listen, and is appropriately placed in the song lineup. 

“Pain in Pretty Things” is a sweet ballad with piano and orchestra swirling throughout.  This melancholy rumination deftly describes the pain that a beautiful woman is capable of inflicting while avoiding cliché.  Spaceship Days’ strength lies in their ability to convey universally appealing themes through carefully crafted lyrics layered over intense yet youth-relevant instrumentation.  The group captures strong emotional content that usually conjures the label “indescribable,” making this album seem like a magical glass prison for distilled inspiration.  

“Sweet Suffocation” combines acoustic guitar, a clap track, light syncopation, and soaring harmonies to weave a poignant picture of a doomed yet thrilling relationship.  Like lingering in a burning home, the sense of inevitable catastrophe makes the narrator all the more reluctant to leave.  

Spaceship Days is a rare creature: exciting, mature, catchy, and masterfully produced.  If this band is not featured on major charts and radio soon, the world will have missed out on something exquisitely beautiful.

Review by Sarah Whited
Sarah Whited is an Austin, TX based singer/songwriter, and writer for Music Connection magazine

Monday, February 7, 2011

There is no Escaping the Fever: A Band Daddy Adventure

 My little girl still wants to be a rock star when she 'grows up'. Or a veterinarian. Sometimes a teacher. It depends on what time of day one poses the question; I ask it fairly often, as Good Daddies should stay firmly planted in the loop. So it was the other day during our fifty seventh round of Whoever Smiles First Loses.

  Her answer was completely out of left field.

 "I wrote a letter." said the child.

  I've been a parent for awhile now, so I remained unfazed. Its OK to answer a question that has nothing at all to do with the one you were asked until at least the age of eight.

 "To who?" I asked, deftly rolling with it.

  "JB" she said, smiling that smile I've come to notice as the one reserved for those older boys who aren't Daddy, that I remind her she shouldn't be talking to.

  And yes, she meant that JB

The Letter

 Generally, I keep my non-fan-ness of things as low key and inoffensive as possible because, you know, not everyone is into kung fu and zombie flicks either. Personal tastes and all that. Besides, thirty something year old guys who play bass in rock bands aren't exactly JB's  target audience, rendering my opinion virtually irrelevant. As always, I thought my poker face impenetrable. At least until I was asked:

"Why'd you do that face Daddy?"

 I used that opportunity to do a little bit of my own answer-an-unrelated-question and we went back to big eyed staring at each other and giggling.

  Truth to be told I was actually very proud of her. My first fan letter went to a band called Devo; I had some very specific ideas about how they could make the hats they wore in the Whip It! video look cooler and I was at least four years older than she. There was no way I could keep my little one just listening to The Beatles and Bob Marley until she got to high school, so her bopping around to something I wish she'd turn the volume down on is just another part of the parenting gig.

   I set the blame for her new found fandom squarely at the feet of my eleven year old niece, who's my encyclopedia for all things hip and tween-aged, but ultimately its totally fine. I figure that Bieber Fever will be just like a regular one. 

  If I wait long enough, it'll just go away.



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fresh From the Mouth of the Horse : A "Black Holes and Butterflies" Review

Here is another review for "Black Holes and Butterflies" 

Artist:  Spaceship Days
Album:  Black Holes and Butterflies
Review by Bryan Rodgers
Rating:  3.5 Stars (out of 5)

Black Holes and Butterflies, the debut full length album from Spaceship Days, is instantly striking in a number of ways.  From the first moment of the opening track, “Hanging From the Satellites,” the stellar production of the album is evident.  As the tuneful, hook-heavy track moves forward, the trio reveals itself to be a formidable pop rock song writing force.  Even listeners who may dislike the band’s unapologetically radio-friendly style will have to admit that the young band has a gift for hitting all the right spots when it comes to making songs that have mass appeal.  Whether or not their aspirations are commercially motivated, their unrelenting catchiness and sensitive songwriting proves to be both their strongest point and their undoing during the course of the album.   

Black Holes and Butterflies is pop honey designed to catch teenaged flies, and it will likely attract more than its fair share.  But one twenty-something’s honey is another’s vinegar.  Spaceship Days walk the line between moderately masculine and cloyingly emotional, and that’s a divisive path among music fans.  It’s reminiscent of the situation of Coldplay, whose megahit “In My Place” is subtly mimed in Spaceship Days’ own “Ghost of California.”  Hating Coldplay has become as popular as liking them, and Spaceship Days would possibly inspire a similar kind of phenomenon if given their shot at stardom.  The similarities don’t end there.  There are enough hand-wringing choruses, massive major key hooks, and dramatic interludes on Black Holes and Butterflies to sink whatever ship Chris Martin captains when he wears those silly coats.

It’s pretty clear who the band wants on their side, and that’s the ladies.  When Matt Mocharnuk’s impassioned, heavily effected vocals crash over the dense, catchy melodies provided by bassist Chuck Cox and multi-instrumentalist Greg Torsone, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine this sound pumping from a few thousand dorm rooms and first cars.  Even when the vibe gets a bit too sugary, as it does during the “doot doot doos” in “Shadow Walking,” you still feel obligated to forgive the band.  After all, they took their name from a lyric in a Catherine Wheel song, and you can occasionally hear the influence of 1990’s alternative rock throughout the album.   For a fairly straightforward pop rock album, there’s a decent amount of diversity.  The earnest lyrics and elegant instrumentation found between the choruses and crannies of songs like “Pain in Pretty Things” brings the band’s fellow North Carolinian Ben Folds to mind, and there’s a considerable amount of college radio rock influence, such as the acoustic roots rock sound of “A Little Extraordinary.”

It’s a tidy listen, clocking in at around 40 minutes, but if you’re a more, shall we say, “experienced” music fan, it’s likely that one would return for anything other than the tastiest morsels.  There are moments where the band just sounds too watered down and self-aware.  The shockingly trite “My Life With You” sounds like it was written with the intention of becoming a wedding staple, a Hallmark card set to music.  Mocharnuk frequently treads into lovey-dovey territory and well into the realm of self-centeredness.  There are few diversions from the topic of relationships and the like.  “Tell me where you think we went wrong/I would love to know,” he pleads in “A Little Extraordinary,” one of the moodier tracks.  He knows his audience and he knows them well.  Whether or not the band set out to make an album full of songs that appeal mostly to young females and the smitten boys that desire them, they’ve crafted a disc full of situations tailor made for that demographic.  Want melodramatic woe-is-me pop for those with first world problems?  Try “Big World Pop Star,” where Mocharnuk muses about feeling like he’s in a movie, or “Something Perfect,” where he compares his lover’s eyes to stars.

 Spaceship Days do what they do incredibly well, but there’s no getting past the fact that this album’s musical and lyrical merit is founded on appealing to the lowest common denominator.  It’s safe, inoffensive pop that could easily take the place of any number of the temporary superstar acts making money in today’s music business, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this band can manage to do that.

Review by Bryan Rodgers
Bryan Rodgers has been in the music business for 15 years--as a writer, DJ, and A&R Rep