Crystal Castles’ upcoming album: Eponymous? (Probably.) Awesome? (Probably.)

The other day, the heir to the throne (who turns 6 very soon, gotsta get some Phineas & Ferb swag for the DS, yo!) asked me about my favorite songs of all time. Yep, Junior threw down the impossible question for music nerds. I can handle favorite groups/artists (Cure, Beatles, Nirvana, Portishead, and Duran Duran, for starters). I might be able to rattle off my favorite albums, at least #1-4 with confidence (Disintegration, Loveless, Revolver, and The Velvet Underground & Nico).

But songs? To quote Clay Davis from The Wire, “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.”

Can’t do it, G. “A Day in the Life” is probably #1, if you stick a gun in my face. “Plainsong” by the Cure is my favorite song of theirs, so I’m sure that’s up there. “The Rain Song” by Zeppelin is one of those songs I love. “Time Has Told Me” and “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake. “Three Days” by Jane’s Addiction. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division. “Scentless Apprentice” by Nirvana. “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode. “Welcome to the Terrordome” by Public Enemy. “Natural’s Not in It” by Gang of Four. And about 3,534 more contenders I might list. And then you want me to prioritize them?

So I went with the redirection strategy. “I dunno. What are your favorite songs?”

Ethan Kath and Alice Glass of Crystal Castles stand in an alleyWithout blinking an eye, Will came up with his top three.

“‘Beep Beep’ is #1.” (Read: “Celestica” by Crystal Castles. He’s referencing the occasional electronic “beep-beep” noise throughout the song.)

“‘Bathtism’ is #2.” (Read: “Baptism” by Crystal Castles. And no, it’s not a speech impediment. He thought it was some sort of washing affliction, I guess.)

“And then #3 would be that Radio Dept. song.” (Read: some song by The Radio Dept. [shrug])

I admire my son’s definitive opinion, and it’s obvious my influence has rubbed off on the boy. Crystal Castles’ 2010 eponymous collection was my favorite album that year; and my son’s “favorite song of all time” is arguably my favorite song from that year. (I would argue that “Bathtism/Baptism” is the third best song on that album, behind the Robert Smith-vocalized “Not in Love.”)

So you can imagine our collective excitement when I read today that the Canadian duo will land in Croatia to record album #3 in short order, with an eye for a summer release. In the wake of such euphoria, I was left to ask myself some questions…

Chris: What should they name this album?

Chris: Duh. The only acceptable title other than Crystal Castles is Self-titled.

Chris: Why do I think Alice Glass is hot?

Chris: The same reason people think Alison Mosshart or Karen O is hot: the music blinds their vision while amplifying their sense of hearing. And all you hear is passionate vocals, either delivered in reserved/heartbreaking tones (“Celestica,” “Suffocation,” “Tell Me What to Swallow”) or piercing screams (“Baptism,” “Alice Practice,” “xxzxcuzx me”) or, um, I dunno (“Crimewave,” “Untrust Us”) and you just find yourself having these primal reactions to the words, to the voice. And Alice is petite, brunette, dresses in black…that kind of works for me.

(As shallow as this sounds, I feel obligated to point out that Romy from the xx still doesn’t do it for me, even with that voice.)

Chris: Why does Music or Space Shuttle? scribe Todd not like Crystal Castles?

Chris: I don’t know! I always assumed this would be right up his alley, what with his love for Neon Indian and M83. No, they’re not the same, but similar enough in certain elements (the first album plays more like Neon Indian; some of the grandeur of the second album seems a bit M83ish). You can ask Todd yourself by sending him an email at toddisdumb@chrisrules.com (please use the Subject Line “Chris is so cool; what’s your deal?” to ensure a prompt response).

Chris: Why do I like them so much?

Chris: Listen to the lush opening chords of “Celestica.” Listen to the aggression in “Baptism.” Listen to the swell of the music as Robert Smith approaches the chorus of “Not in Love.” Listen to the abrupt synth mashup following each verse of “Pap Smear.” Listen to the sampling of Sigur Ros on “Year of Silence.” Listen to the disturbing, quiet cry for help in “Tell Me What to Swallow.” Listen to the confident groove throughout “Vanished” and “Crimewave.” Listen to the quirky Donkey Kong sample in “Air War.” Listen to the soaring synth against the restrained vocals in “Suffocation.” All of these moments are like fucking dopamine for my ears. That last sentence is the most efficient way for me to state my feelings toward this music.

Chris: Any chance this album won’t disappoint, given my love for the first two albums?

Chris: Sure, there are some reasons to be worried. After two albums, I thought Bloc Party was one of the greatest bands of the 21st century (although unlike Crystal Castles, I thought BP’s second album was a lateral move rather than a step forward). Then they put out Intimacy. [shudder] And you’ll never hear me defend the Crystal Castles live sound, at least based on the recordings I’ve heard (never seen ’em live).

But this is a band that recognized that the 8-bit sound that infiltrated much of its debut couldn’t dominate album #2, so they evolved. Ethan Kath seems to have the perfect muse in Alice Glass. The lone bum song on the second album (a cover song, so it was the lone song Kath didn’t write) was later elevated to untouchable status by collaborating with Robert Smith on a new version, which shows they are shrewd and credible. And they’re traveling to Croatia to record this new album, so I’m guessing they’ll be focused. (Not sure what I mean by that…)

And don’t forget: this band wrote and recorded the world’s greatest song ever (according to my son). They’ve probably got another good song or two…or 12…or 16…

I can’t wait to find out. Until then, we’ll always have “Beep Beep.”

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Desert Island Music Poll: Bon Iver Vs. Arcade Fire

Here at Music or Space Shuttle? we feel like we should be asking the tough, hard-hitting questions. This week we continue our series of polls where we force you, the thoughtful reader, to choose between two random artists. You may not always like either selection but you have to pick one. (None of that “I’d rather stuff my head in the sand until I suffocate and die” third option crap.)

With the 2012 Grammys coming up, it seems like the perfect time to put  Bon Iver up against Arcade Fire.  In 2011 indie rock band Arcade Fire shocked the world when their record The Suburbs won the Grammy for Album of the Year.  Their win was so surprising that award presenter Babs Streisand didn’t  know if the band’s name was The Suburbs or Arcade Fire. This year, indie rock darlings Bon Iver have been nominated for both Record and Song of the Year Grammys.

It has been said (by me) that a win in a MoSS? poll can often prove to be a very good Grammy predictor. Could a win for Bon Iver in the prestigious MoSS? Desert Island Music Poll  be a precursor to winning a Grammy?  Only you the voters can decide.

So what will you decide? Listen to Arcade Fire’s Funeral and Neon Bible or Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever ago  and Bon Iver  for the rest of your days?  Vote below and please feel free to justify your selection in the comments section.

Hart, Hagar cited in late-hour car crash

[Editor’s note: I’ve been under the weather lately, so I thought I would repurpose a music-related humor piece I wrote during my early days as a blogger.]

LOS ANGELES—Pop vocalists Corey Hart and Sammy Hagar received citations for their roles in a head-on collision on Interstate 5 early this morning.

corey hart and sammy hagar wearing sunglasses, sorta looking cool

Corey Hart (left) and Sammy Hagar

According to reports filed by officers of the California Highway Patrol (aka CHiPs), Hart was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of the multilane highway around 1:30 a.m. Officers observed that Hart seemed to be in full control of all of his faculties, and no drugs or alcohol were found in his 1992 Ford Taurus or on his person.

He was, however, wearing sunglasses, which officers believe was a contributing factor in the crash.

Oncoming drivers avoided Hart for nearly a mile, according to witness statements. However, Hart’s luck ran out when Hagar came roaring down the freeway in his 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix at speeds well over 55 miles per hour.

“Hart’s nighttime use of dark lenses coupled with Hagar’s inability to operate a motor vehicle at reasonable speeds, that’s a bad mix,” said CHP spokesman Randy Baddington. “Kinda like a mixtape featuring Corey Hart and Sammy Hagar is a bad idea.”

Hart and Hagar collided, but miraculously neither rocker suffered serious injury. Hagar was cited for refusing to drive 55, despite his insistence that he is simply incapable of doing such; Hart was nabbed for wearing his sunglasses at night.

“Hart was a little surprised to receive a ticket—he went as far as to ask if I was kidding,” said CHP officer Sean Tavin. “I reassured him that I knew better than to masquerade with the guy in shades.”

And the Academy Award goes to… Jonah Hill?

Jonah Hill received a surprise Academy Award nomination this week for his supporting role in Moneyball.   Not bad for his first attempt at a dramatic role. I really liked Moneyball and thought Jonah was great in it, but he’s had way better roles in the past that I feel deserve recognition.

Schrader from Accepted

Jonah had a lot of great lines in the movie Accepted, but my favorite is “I hope you guys have Hobo Stab Insurance.”(Go to the 45 second mark on the Accepted movie trailer) The use of the word hobo kills me. Before the movie no one had regularly used the word hobo since the 1940’s and even then it was usually in reference to the obligatory hobo Halloween costume. Since the movie I use the term almost daily. “I would kill a hobo for a piece of pizza” is thrown around a lot in my house. The idea of  “stab insurance” is funny in itself.  I might get stabbed but I’m covered, I have insurance. I wonder if you get that through Aflac or Geico? I hear Geico has the better Hobo Stab Insurance premiums.

Confused We Sell Your Crap On Ebay Store Shopper

In The 40 Year Old Virgin, Jonah shows up in the We Sell Your Crap On Ebay Store. He can’t seem to grasp the idea of a store where you can go inside, browse through merchandise, but can’t actually purchase anything unless you go home and bid on it. Now that I think about it, I’m a bit confused too. I also love the item he wants to buy.  Go-Go boots with gold fish in the heel. Not just for fun but to actually take home and wear.

Seth from Superbad

My favorite comedy of all time. Jonah was great throughout as the wisecracking high school kid Seth. Whether he is forecasting his future porn tastes or making fun of nerdy friend McLovin, his scenes are comedic home runs. My favorite scene by far is The Dick Treasure Chest. Seth admits a deep dark secret to his best friend. Apparently, he used to sit around all day and compulsively draw pictures of dicks. That’s right, Man Dick. It’s OK though, something like 8% of kids does it. So, nothing to worry about.

Congratulations to  Jonah for being nominated for such a high profile acting award. I just hope he doesn’t go the route of other some other comedic actors and do only dramatic roles from now on. Robin Williams won his Oscar and all we saw from him afterwards was crap like Patch Adams and Jakob the Liar.

Stay true to your comedic roots Jonah and we the fans will always ask you about your weiner.

Bon Jovi + Bon Iver = Bon Joviver

Mainly unknown weird guy rock band, Miracles of Modern Science, released a video this week that finally answers the question on all music lover’s minds. What would you get if you took 80’s hair band Bon Jovi,  2011 indie rock darlings Bon Iver, and mixed them together into some sort of cross generational pop music stew?  To get the answer the MoMS gang take  Bon Jovi’s  “You Give Love a Bad Name” and sing it in the Bon Iver higher than high register. Then they deliver it to us in an overly dramatic Bon Iver-esque music video.

For those of you that haven’t heard of Bon Iver, the video for their song  “Calgary” is below.

For those of you that have lived in a cave for the last 25 years, here is the video for Bon Jovi’s  “You Give Love a Bad Name”.

And finally, the Bon Joviver stew.

If Ian Curtis could hang himself again, he would

The better half is busting my balls to go to Disney World sometime soon, before our son loses interest in such festive fun. The boy already listens to Crystal Castles and Sigur Ros, so a typical childhood may not be in the cards, at least from an entertainment perspective. (Plus, in my opinion, Disney World is nothing more than an overhyped Adventureland, amiright?)

20120123-212632.jpgApparently the Rodent knows that my son’s musical leanings mirror mine, so he rolled out this gem of a T-shirt: the Waves Mickey Mouse, inspired by the cover of the Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures.

I was making a mix the other day, one that incorporated “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” and I said to myself, “What would be the perfect transition song from Joy Division? A song that will continue the melancholy of Ian Curtis?” Naturally I landed on “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” so this shirt design makes perfect fucking sense.

Unless the next episode of Playhouse Disney involves Daisy carving the lyrics from “Atmosphere” into her torso or Goofy dangling broken-necked from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse rafters, I’m calling hipster-baiting capitalist-greed bullshit on the Mouse. What’s next, a re-creation of Jane’s Addiction’s Ritual de lo Habitual cover with Mickey, Minnie, and Clarabelle lying naked and intertwined?

Bad form, Mouse. You’ve only strengthened my resolve to avoid your brand of theme-park fun!

(If you’re an asshole and want to buy this shirt, visit the Disney site.)

Exploring the ’80s Movie Montage: The Dance Training Montage

Ahh…the movie montage. It is the perfect way to show a lot of action in a short period of time. This was a very popular movie making technique in the 80’s. There were many different versions, but this time around I’m going to focus on “The Dance Training Montage”.

There are 4 basic parts:

  1. The kick ass ’80s song.
  2. Let’s get serious now, you suck.
  3. Let’s goof around a bit now, you’re improving.
  4. After a tough 2-3 minutes you are a professional dancer!

Dirty Dancing

Pony Boy’s big brother teaches Ferris Bueller’s sister to dance.

  1. Kick Ass ’80s Song- Eric Carmen “Hungry Eyes”
  2. His earth shattering advice to get things started? “Ga-Gung…Ga-Gung…Close your eyes. Now dance bitch!”
  3. At the 3:00 mark a dance move requires Johnny to run his hand down the length of Baby’s arm. Of course, at first she can’t take it without laughing.
  4. The training is done after she somehow musters up the will power to handle all of that sexy touching. The sexual tension is oozing out of my computer screen. Something tells me she will be running her hand down the length of his “baby’s arm” real soon.

Footloose

6 degrees of Kevin Bacon has to teach a pre-bloat Chris Penn how to boogie before the big dance.

  1. Kick Ass ’80s Song – Deniece Williams “Let’s Hear it for the Boy”.
  2. For some reason they start things off in that super roomy VW bug.
  3. Halfway through the guys stop for a little manly tussling in the gym.
  4. Around the 2:25 mark the boys high five to represent the final handoff of dance knowledge. Chris Penn then shows off his skills with an epic solo dance number complete with coveralls and farm gloves.

Breakin’

Turbo and Ozone have to teach a Mary Lou Retton look alike to break dance.

  1. Kick Ass ’80s Song- Chaka Khan’s “Aint Nobody”
  2. Things start off a little on the tense side when Turbo calls out the girl’s street cred.
  3. At the 3:00 mark the gang takes a little time out to goof around wearing super stylish monogrammed T-shirts.
  4. At the 3:06 mark an observer sees her massive improvement and drops his phone. Damn! White girl can pop and lock!

Surviving the New Music Wasteland 2: Attack of the Clones

As you may have already read, there was a period in the late ’90s and early 2000s that I dubbed “The New Music Wasteland”. This was a period in which the music I listened to was no longer considered mainstream music. Radio stations changed formats, popular music took on a totally different shape, and I was left to wander aimlessly through the aftermath.

Now, I wasn’t living under a rock in those days. Even though I quit listening to the radio (All but sports talk. Who knew you could listen to people talk about the same three sports news items all day and not get bored?) I did see and hear what was happening in the world of pop music. It was The Clone Wars. Just like the Evil Empire, record companies took whatever crap was selling and copied it over and over. But unlike The Emperor who pumped out Stormtrooper after perfect Stormtrooper, (except maybe this one) the copies got shittier and shittier as they cranked them out. If we learned anything from the Michael Keaton movie Multiplicity, it was that a copy of a copy is always of lesser quality. Eventually, instead of a handsome movie star you end up with Sloth from Goonies. It happened in all genres of music but it was most notable in three basic forms.

Bellybutton Pop:

It all started with Britney Spears. Who didn’t feel for that young girl? Her loneliness was killing her! She pleaded for us to hit her “… Baby One More Time”. Next came Christina Aguilera with “Genie in a Bottle,” inappropriately asking us all for some release by “rubbing her the right way.” Soon any underage blonde that could hold a tune (Not even that important) had her tits propped up and her bellybutton out for perverts and little girls across the country. Check out these album covers from roughly the same 1-2 year period.

Blonde girl? Check.

Breasts in view? Check.

Bellybutton out? Check.

Lips slightly parted? Check.

Can she sing? Uhhh sort of.

Who cares! Let’s make a record!

Super Dreamy Boy Bands:

Now this trend has been around for a long time. The ’80s had their share of boy bands as New Edition, Menudo, and New Kids on the Block all had various levels of popularity. But in the late 90’s boy bands hit their peak. Groups like ‘N SYNC, 98 Degrees, and Backstreet Boys were all the rage, also to the delight of pervs and little girls everywhere. Don’t be fooled, there was a formula for it all. First, the poppy dance number to get our attention. Then, the slow emotional song to make us all fall in love. I know I couldn’t look into the eyes of any of these guys without them “Tearing Up My Heart”. Come on! Look at these press shots.

The fashion sense. The creepy facial hair. Are they good boys? Are they bad boys? Are they straight? Are they gay?

Who cares! Let’s make a record!

Shit Rock. Or The Horrible Never Ending Cavalcade of Shitty Post-Grunge Rock Bands:

They were usually either some awful Pearl Jam knock off, or some half rock, half rap 311 sounding crap. Judging by these band photos they all must have had the same publicist too.

For some reason it was very important for everyone to know the bands pecking order. Band members got lined up presumably by importance. Lead singer, Lead guitar, everyone else…

“Hey! You in back. Yeah, drummer guy. We’re still seeing too much of you.”

“Ok, no one smile and ….. perfect.”

But, are they any good?

Who cares! Let’s make a record!

Salvation finally came in the form of satellite and internet radio. But in the meantime I had to find alternate methods to satisfy my musical appetite. Naturally, I did what everyone does in times of trouble… look back on better days. Here are a few examples of some artists I rediscovered during this time. Maybe this could serve as a guide if you ever find yourself stuck in your own “New Music Wasteland”.

Pixies

Before there was grunge rock and Nirvana there was The Pixies. Kurt Cobain actually admitted that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was a conscious attempt to copy the Pixies. He also said The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa was one of his main musical influences. I listened to all things Pixies for pretty much an entire year. This forced my wife to have to listen to all things Pixies. She didn’t mind too much until the Frank Black solo stuff came out. I think she began to feel like Manuel Noriega when the U.S. bombarded him with heavy metal music to get him to surrender. The Pixies were definitely ahead of their time and are worth a listen, but learn from my mistakes. There will be no “hunkering down” whilst the music of Doolittle is playing.

Springsteen

Every few years I see some retrospective or documentary about Bruce Springsteen and end up feeling like I should try to get into his music. I dive into his early work and then remember that I was not born in New Jersey nor am I the son of a coal miner. The music of “The Boss” just doesn’t speak to me like it does other people. Glowing review right? My ambivalence doesn’t mean it’s not work checking out though. There’s some good stuff there you just have to sift through the crap.

The most hilariously awkward moment in music video history

Coming Soon SNMW 3: A New Hope

MoSS? Monthly Mixtape: January

Frankie Rose “Know Me”

Tanlines “Brothers”

Body Language “Social Studies”

Elite Gymnastics “Omamori”

Islands “This is Not a Song”

School of Seven Bells “LaFaye”

Chairlift “Sidewalk Safari”

Cloud Nothings “Stay Useless”

Sharon Van Etten “Serpents

First Aid Kit “EmmyLou”