MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #2

Yep, we’ve made a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

We’ve reached the really good stuff: our top 10s. We’ll roll these out one per day (Monday-Friday) over the next two weeks, reaching #1 on Friday, Dec. 14. The following week, we’ll unveil our favorite music from 2012.

Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ #2: My Bloody Valentine, Loveless

(click play button below to sample this album)

loveless album coverI did the college radio DJ thing for the first time in 1997, during my last year at Iowa State. I had two three-hour shifts a week on KURE (Cure!), which was based in the basement of one of the buildings there (sad that I can’t remember exactly where…Friley Hall, maybe?). It was a lot of fun, even though we were forced to follow a CMJ-based playlist for about 50 percent of the air time. There were six songs per hour we had to play; we could fill the rest of the time with our own choices, as long as the songs didn’t contain “fuck” or “shit” in the lyrics and weren’t top 40 kind of stuff.

(Contrast this with my time at KRUI as a staff member at the University of Iowa, which was post-Janet Jackson-boob-flop/FCC crackdown on “indecency.” The top 40 rule applied at KRUI, but I was told not to play songs that had the word “damn,” never mind “shit” and “fuck.” Different times in college radio, I guess.)

So once I got my required plays out of the way (being 1997, that meant stuff like Tindersticks, Travis, Suede, Sarah McLachlan), I would dig into the older CDs, and often times I turned to Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. I would turn the in-studio speakers up to 11 and let the waves of guitar wash over me. One particular time, I decided to play three songs in a row: “Touched,” “To Here Knows When,” and “When You Sleep.” About halfway through the second song, the studio phone rang.

“Hey, I think you have the record player on the wrong speed.”

I informed the caller that I was using a compact disc player.

“Whatever. Listen, I’m calling from Mr. Goodcents. We would like to do you the favor of playing your station over our in-store speakers, but if you’re gonna play weird stuff like this, I don’t know that we can keep doing that for you.”

[silence on my end]

“So, like, play something normal, and we’ll keep you on the speakers.”

I realized what was at stake if I didn’t comply with the wishes of the most popular sandwich outlet in Ames aside from Jimmy John’s, Subway, Blimpie, Pita Pit, Pizza Pit, the gyro carts on Welch, convenience store delis, and a few others (probably). If I fuck this up, the station would see a ZERO PERCENT reduction in funding from Mr. Goodcents; worse, we would be facing audience casualties that might number in the tens.

So I did what any asshole college radio DJ would do: I said I’d play something slightly more mainstream, got on the air after the MBV trifecta ended, dedicated the next song to the good folks at Goodcents, and then played an eight-minute Future Sound of London song (which I believe was on the CMJ playlist…two birds with one repetitive techno stone).

I did so not to maintain the hipster image of the college radio DJ, but because I was genuinely pissed off and surprised that the greatness of MBV went unrecognized by this sandwich maker. And it really goes beyond ignoring the greatness; the quality of said music had been called into question, and the airing of the music sparked a likely boycott by the local eatery. I was left perplexed: Who doesn’t think Loveless is the best thing since sliced bread?

(To be fair, the dudes at Mr. Goodcents probably have an elevated opinion of sliced bread, thus a higher standard of excellence.)

my bloody valentine band photoThere’s so much for me to like in this band, and in this album in particular. First and foremost, the amazing sounds that ringleader Kevin Shields and the much beloved Bilinda Butcher coax from their guitars. Their guitars are everywhere: soaring, circling, bouncing off the walls, howling, smothering, surrounding you. It’s amazing to feel the weight of the guitar assault. And not volume for volume’s sake sort of attack, either: it’s the density that does the bludgeoning. I feel like I’m in a hot tub of awesome when I listen to this album.

(“How is this guy not getting paid millions of dollars to pen music critiques?” you might be asking in the wake of that last sentence.)

So yeah, guitars, guitars, guitars, with textures and volumes aplenty. Not the kind of guitar-music that prompts me to bust into air-guitar theatrics, though. Despite the waves of guitar, I’d sooner completely chill with this music on. How can that be? I chalk it up to another important element of MBV music: the vocals evident under the surface of six-string sonic assault. Sometimes sung by Bilinda, sometimes by Kevin, always soothing. It almost has a hypnotic effect. The words are somewhat decipherable, which on its face sounds like a criticism more than a compliment, but they serve almost more like an instrument than a narrative. Not quite to the level of Sigur Ros, but similar. Kevin’s laid-back style fits well underneath the music, and Bilinda’s tone (so dreamy, so sensual) is what matters, not the words she’s saying.

Plus, when the words are a mystery, we can all feel a little less self-conscious when we do that “sing-along-using-sounds-that-sorta-resemble-real-words” thing that we all do with music from time to time.

Even the drumming, which is muted even more so than the vocals, sounds really good on here. Nothing fancy, but I think because it is used as more of a complement to the rest of the music, it magnifies the fills, creating a greater impact.

Even though I’m quite certain this album factored poorly in one of my dating escapades at Iowa State (the girl saw the CD in my car and, aghast, blurted out, “My Bloody Valentine? Should I be worried?”), the good far outweighs the bad. As shoegaze enjoys another revival in popularity, it is timely for me to rejoice Loveless as one of the most important (and incredible) albums ever made. Click the play button on my sampler atop this write-up, sit back, close your eyes, and let (three songs from) Loveless envelop you.

Or turn it off and go make a sandwich.

Todd’s #2: Pixies, Doolittle

(click play button below to sample this album)

pixies_doolittleIf you read our #6 album post about Nirvana’s Nevermind, then you that saw Chris and I were asked questions by the International Blogging Syndicate during an interview about out lists. One of the questions asked was…Is it easier to write about an album you love or an album you hate? Chris had a great response:

The ones you hate. The ones you love, you want to respect the shit out of them, so it’s harder to get the words just right, to get them to convey your true admiration.

Well, that’s how I feel about The Pixies, Doolittle. I have nothing to write about this album’s greatness that hasn’t already been written by way better scribes than me. Nor do I have any particularly interesting anecdotes about this record to discuss. I also already shared details of my Pixies addiction in my “Surviving the New Music Wasteland” trilogy of posts.

So I guess I am taking the easy way out and choosing to do-little (rimshot) for my Doolittle post. I am going to run through the songs of Doolittle and tell you the very specific reasons why I like them. Could be a drum beat. Could be a lyric or lack thereof. The best parts of songs can sometimes be the subtleties. So here we go.

“Debaser”- Kim Deal’s backing vocals make this one for me. Also, the line at the beginning “slicing up eyeballs.” Wonderfully graphic.

“Tame”- Has to be Black Francis’ screaming TAME!!!! at the end of the song. He had to have needed a lozenge after that.

“Wave of Mutilation”- Love the rumbling drums before the chorus.

“I Bleed”- Black Francis’ imperfect echoing of Kims Deal’s vocals and the part where he sings the line “Nobody Knows” in a comically deeper voice.

“Here Comes Your Man” – Basically, everything about this song is great, but to pick one specific part…The little guitar ditty between verses.

“Dead”– The ‘60s pop guitar solo in the middle of the song.

“Monkey Gone to Heaven”- If man was 5 and the Devil is 6…then God is 7!!!!

“Mr. Grieves”- They say the album title Doolittle in it.

“Crackity Jones”- “The last set of ”Crack crack crackity jones” and the little chirping noise he makes in between them.

“La la Love You”- The pleas for us listeners to ‘Shake Your Butt!” at the beginning.

“No. 13 Baby”- The two minute outro is fucking great.

“There Goes My Gun”- I love that the first verse is just Black Francis yelling Yoo Hoo! Three times. Guess he decided to Doolittle on the verse.

“Hey”- Another song that I adore everything about…I guess I’ll pick the guitars during the first verse. Very jangly for a verse about whores in your bed.

“Silver”- This is the one song I’ve struggled over the years to like much. Kim Deal sings on it so I’ll go with that.

“Gouge Away”- I love that it is the perfect segue song to the next Pixies album Bossanova. Very similar style to many songs on that release.

So there you have it. My very specific reasons for liking every song on Doolittle. Give it a listen sometime if you already haven’t (How that could even be possible is beyond me) and think of your own reasons.

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MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #20-16

Yep, we’re making a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

Here are some spoilers: you’re not going to find the typical hipster stuff like Neutral Milk Hotel or Slint or even stuff one/both of us actually likes such as DJ Shadow or Pavement. This isn’t Rolling Stone so you’re not going to find Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds at the top. Wham’s Make It Big was snubbed.

We’re not going to roll it all out at once; no sense rushing through all this quality music! But Music or Space Shuttle? is gonna be pretty busy over the next two months.

That’s enough of an intro. Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ #20-16

(click play button below to sample these five albums)

20. PortisheadThird

19. Depeche ModeViolator

18. Nick DrakePink Moon

17. Smashing PumpkinsGish

16. Sigur Ros( )


#17: Smashing Pumpkins, Gish

cover for gishWe said we’d keep our “closer looks” to two artists per entry until the top 10; as a result, I’m basically ignoring the album (Violator) that defined a big part of my junior year of high school, right around the time that I ended a relationship that by all accounts was perfect and entered into another that was short-sighted yet valuable all the same. And if you ever wanted an album to soundtrack the mixed emotions of a confused teenager, you can’t go wrong with the extremes found on Violator.

Yet I’m opting to talk at length about one of two albums that defined my senior year of high school, when I wised up and stopped taking science courses (I took physics, but that’s math) and dropped Advanced Composition to take Parenting and started dating girls two grades below me. And yes, listened to Smashing Pumpkins’ Gish hundreds of times.

Thanks to Spin, which wrote a feature about a handful of bands to watch, I made a mental note to check out this oddly named band. It wasn’t hard to remember the name, probably because it’s a terrible name for a band. Most people laughed at the name when I told them they had to check out Smashing Pumpkins. Often times they would snicker or roll their eyes or whatever and never listen to the blank tape I carried with me at all times. Then again, a lot of people I knew back then had no interest in anything other than Zeppelin or Garth or Poison (but rarely all three).

Despite this reaction, perhaps the name is genius. I certainly remembered it in the period between reading that Spin article and buying the CD. And if you’re as good as the Pumpkins were on their debut disc, you can make a ballsy move like naming your band Smashing Pumpkins. Because once you hear them, you’re not going to give a fuck what the band name is, aside from the fact that you need the name so you can tell your friends they have to listen to this band now.

The clean snaps from Jimmy Chamberlin’s snare drum immediately call the listener to attention. The rumble of the bass comes next, and then the Billy Corgan Experience comes at you with guitars a-blazin’. You do a double-take when the thin Corgan voice fills the air, but you’re still rolling with the groove, so you shrug a little bit. Soon enough, Corgan is assailing your ears with layers of solo guitar work before the bass’s rumble is isolated again and the song hits its final chorus and it comes to a halt and you’re all like “dude! What the fuck!” And then “Siva” starts and you’re air-guitaring the shit out of your bedroom/basement/car’s driver seat/back room at Pizza Hut/wherever.

These aren’t the 1980s guitar licks, processed and played only in the higher ranges. This shit was grungy (aha!), tuned down and dirty as fuck. “Siva” plays up the LOUDquietLOUD aspect of late ’80s/early ’90s alt-rock at least twice, the second time again isolating the bass guitar, which isn’t playing anything complicated (although D’Arcy might disagree) but propels the song forward while the guitars chill the fuck out for a few seconds and Billy whisper-sings about wanting to know what you’re after because he just wants to get there faster and then the SONG JUST FUCKING EXPLODES and you’re punching the air along with every hit of Chamberlin’s drums and you are like “holy shit this is so so so so goddamn good and I hope this puts a fucking ice pick in the eye socket of ‘heavy metal’ and all that hair metal shit because holy fuck this is awesome.”

And then “Rhinoceros” takes everything down a notch, to let you know that Billy doesn’t need layers of guitar running through Big Muff pedals to do his thing.

And then “Bury Me” brings the guitar heroics back. And then “Crush” slows it all down again. Songs like “Crush” and the next song, “Suffer,” are the songs that best exemplify what Spin said about these guys (I’m paraphrasing): an album you put on as you relax and get all reflective while watching the specks floating in the beam of sunlight coming through your bedroom window. There’s something romantic to that description, and I always enjoyed approaching parts of this album through that lens.

The album throttles forward again with “Snail” and “Tristessa,” then concludes with the two most eccentric tracks on the album: the ominous, slow build of “Window Paine” (punctuated with trademark blasts of controlled feedback at song’s end) and “Daydream,” an acoustic tune that features D’Arcy on vocals and a perfect sense of weariness. (And when you think the album is over, a strange reprise of sorts kicks in, with Billy back on vocals and a simple electric guitar line that adds just a touch of sinister to the album’s conclusion).

Many people thought the Pumpkins were from Seattle, because that’s where all the good music like this was coming from, courtesy of Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. No, they were from Chicago; yes, they were as good as (if not better than) the folks from the Pacific Northwest.

#16: Sigur Ros, ( )

cover for ( )The challenge: express my love for an album that had no title, no song titles (at least upon initial release), lyrics that weren’t English or any other established language…essentially guide vocals that served more instrumental value than vocal message.

The thing is, as pretentious as the whole thing sounds, the eight songs that make up this untitled album are absolutely gorgeous. I might as well be writing in the nonsense language sung by Jonsi to adequately get across my points…but if nothing else, the bottom line is that these songs create an environment that, to my ears and to my “the afterlife is bullshit” mind, is as close to heaven as I think any of us is going to get.

Much like with Explosions in the Sky, this music sounds like the perfect ingredients for a motion picture score. And the music is varying enough (even if the “lyrics” aren’t) that it works for a number of moods and settings. And the fact that the lyrics aren’t real words is not a hindrance: much like the music behind them, the words can mean whatever you want them to mean. And be honest…a lot of you don’t get the words right when you sing along to songs in English.

(To my ears, the primary “lyric” to the first song is “You sat along the fire/you saw the light/you saw/you suffered alone/you sat alone/your soul”; again, there is no definitive lyric, but that’s what I hear, and it plays into my interpretation of the artistic vision of the music.)

Soaring, atmospheric, conjuring up scenes of natural beauty, fast, loud, slow, quiet, pianos, guitars, percussion, strings, organ, Jonsi…all of these elements add up to bliss. I should take a cue from the album’s lack of words and stop now, and let the music speak for itself. Please listen to the last two songs in my sampler found just above my #20-16 list, and interpret the space between the album title’s parentheses as you will. As someone who will finally see the band in concert in April 2013, I’m sure my interpretations will change again after the live experience. That’s one, if not the primary, beautiful aspect of ( ): there’s always room for your ever-changing view of this wonderful art.

Todd’s #20-16

(click play button below to sample these five albums)

20. Beatles, Revolver

19. The Strokes, Room On Fire

18.The Cure, Disintegration

17. Radiohead, Kid A

16. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless


#18: The Cure, Disintegration

I’ll keep this brief because I’m pretty certain my main MoSS? man Chris is going to be waxing poetic about this record at some point down the road. No surprise to all you Chris fans out there I’m sure.

I’d like to say that I was in on this album from the beginning but that wasn’t the case. When Disintegration came out, I was still exploring classic rock and Livin’, Lovin’ my way through the Led Zeppelin catalog. I’d probably heard a few songs from The Cure by then but they were definitely not on my radar at that point. I do remember seeing the video for “Lovesong” and thinking, “What’s that dude whining about?”

So what made me change my mind? Well, a girl of course. Around that time, my dopey friends and I went over to a classmate’s house to hang out with her and her friend from another school. Yes, a new girl from an exotic unknown land. Well, two towns away to be exact. She was cool, cute, and brunette. I was smitten. I have a weakness for brunettes, this is well documented. The TV was tuned to 120 Minutes, an MTV show that played alternative music videos. At some point the video for the song “Fascination Street” was on and new girl said she loved The Cure. What do you think I told her in response? You guessed it…“I love them too. They’re one of my favorite bands of all time.”

She must have sensed I was full of shit. Maybe it was my hair. I was still rocking the mullet. You know. Business in the front…party in the back. See photo on the left. It was an obvious sign of a hard or classic rock lover. Not too long after that I started to wear my hair in the exact opposite way, with my hair long in front and short in back which was more in line with the alternative music that I was getting into. See photo on the right of the band The Ocean Blue. They made the list back at #69 with their self titled debut album. I dressed and wore my hair just like the those guys.

Anyways, exotic-two-towns-away girl didn’t fall for my lie and I, of course, got nowhere with her. It wasn’t a total strikeout though because the experience got me interested in The Cure. Today I wouldn’t be lying if I told her that The Cure is one of my favorite bands of all time. Plus, I can always console myself in the fact that I met and married a way cooler, way hotter brunette that loves The Cure too.

I wonder what happened to two-towns-away girl? I like to think that she married some dude that got her into country music and right now she is listening to Rascal Flatts or something equally as horrid. Not that I’m holding a grudge or anything.

#17: Radiohead, Kid A

This is my highest rated Radiohead album. You won’t be seeing the over hyped OK Computer on any of my lists (unless we make a list of the 100 Most Overrated Albums Ever…mental note) No, Kid A is the Radiohead album for me. I feel the same way about this record as Chris does about Sigur Ros ( ) which he so eloquently wrote about above. The music, while eerily off-putting at times, is beautiful. Though, unlike Jonsi from Sigur Ros, Thom Yorke is singing in English and you can understand most of his lyrics.

In my crazy head, the album Kid A will always be connected to the movie Almost Famous. They really have nothing to do with each other, but I can’t think of one without eventually thinking of the other. They came out around the same time. Almost Famous in September 2000 and Kid A a few weeks later. A week or so after that, Saturday Night Live had Radiohead as the musical guest and the host was, new Hollywood “It Girl” and star of Almost Famous, Kate Hudson.  She really blew up after that movie came out. They threw her in a ton of crap movies and you couldn’t go to a newsstand without seeing her on several magazine covers. Like this Rolling Stone cover from late October 2000.

Not too shabby in the looks department but not really my type. I always liked the actress that played the sister in Almost Famous better, Zooey Deschanel. She’s been involved in much better projects than Kate since then and is in the indie band, She and Him, which gets her astronomically more cool points. I guess Kate did marry the dude from the Black Crowes but that doesn’t really help her cause in my book. And again, I have a weakness for brunettes.

Anyways, I bought that Rolling Stone magazine at the O’hare International Airport before a business flight to Tampa Bay. The two main articles in it are about… you guessed it… Radiohead’s Kid A and the movie Almost Famous.

The last 45 minutes of the flight were pretty bumpy as we came through some bad weather. At times it felt like we were riding a roller coaster as we suddenly gained and lost altitude. I’m not scared of flying but like most people, I find rocketing through the air in a tin can a bit less fun when the tin can is being thrown around by turbulence. I put on my headphones and queued up the first song on Kid A to try and relax. “Everything in It’s Right Place” came over my headphones and did nothing to soothe my nerves. It has a pretty ominous sound to it and made me feel even more like we might not make it safely to the ground. We hit a very bumpy stretch a bit later and when I looked out the window I could see lightning and huge storm clouds ahead.

There is a great part in the movie Almost Famous were the central characters are in a small airplane that has engine troubles and they believe they are going to die as they plummet to the earth. Everyone on board takes the opportunity to make major announcements about there sexuality and/or air out long held grievances. The plane eventually rights itself and they realize that they aren’t going to die. Awkward!

I definitely wasn’t going to be sharing any major revelations with the chatty 300 lb. dude wedged into the seat next to me. So, I just closed my eyes and tried to appear as though I was calmly sleeping through the worst plane flight of my life. At that point, the song “How to Disappear Completely” came over the headphones.  This time the music and lyrics actually made me feel better.

Strobe lights and blown speakers
Fireworks and hurricanes
I’m not here
This isn’t happening
I’m not here
I’m not here
I’m not here

I just kept on listening and by the time the album was over so was the storm. I opened my eyes and there was nothing but clear skies ahead. The rest of the flight went smoothly and we touched down in sunny Florida with our lives and our dignity intact. Although, the dude next to me did reveal that he had been a bed wetter until the age of 15.

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From the MoSS? Pit: Memoryhouse/Tiny Fireflies

an empty glass that once contained Bell's stout aleTodd and I spent the first night of March knocking back “14s” (you know, 7&7s) and the finest beverages offered by Bell’s (the stout and Two-Hearted Ale, to be specific) in the heart of The Mill in downtown Iowa City. While one could go to The Mill simply for the drinks and/or the ambience, we were also there to hear Memoryhouse, a nifty shoegazey/dreampoppy outfit from Toronto.

What we didn’t expect was a killer set by the opener, Tiny Fireflies—described on one blog as a “Chicago pop supergroup.” I don’t know about the “supergroup” classification, but the group was solid, possibly even on par with the headliners.

Tiny Fireflies proved a much more enjoyable experience compared with the last opening act we caught in Iowa City. Of course, that was Kreayshawn, one half of the odd pairing with Neon Indian. We spent a good deal of the Kreayshawn show hanging out on the ped mall or drowning our sorrows at the bar inside the lame venue, the Union Bar. (Or having senior pictures thrust toward us—OK, toward Todd—by under-21 coeds in an attempt to get drinks purchased for them.) So no, the bar wasn’t set very high, but within a few notes of the soundcheck, we knew we were in for something good.

Ethereal, jangly, low-end-driven…well, I could continue to list adjectives, but listen for yourself. The song below is called “Picture Perfect”; it’s the forthcoming single.

You’ll notice at the 30-second mark that two dudes decide to get a closer look at the performance, standing directly in front of the stage, flanking Kristine the singer. As you can see in the video, it was equal parts amusing, annoying, and unsettling?

Anyway, Tiny Fireflies played a handful of tunes; many of them had qualities that brought to mind The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, which is an OK thing to these ears. And they were excited about staying in a hotel with a pool, which was just kinda cute.

Memoryhouse didn’t disappoint when they took the stage. One of the highlights was “The Kids Were Wrong,” the second song on the recently released debut album, The Slideshow Effect. The live drums were augmented by some pounding programmed beats, giving the song some serious backbone. (I moved to get a better angle; please excuse the first 20 seconds or whatever.)

Another highlight came toward the end of the set. The guitar line winds through the Mill, and I think to myself, “How blatant of a My Bloody Valentine ripoff can you get?” until I realized they were covering My Bloody Valentine. I flipped the phone camera on about halfway through the song. (And yes, that is me yelling “Loveless FTW!” at the end of the song.)

All in all, good night out.


Tiny Fireflies

Future material for dispatches from the MoSS? Pit:

  • March 30: The War on Drugs/Dirty Beaches/Wet Hair (Gabe’s)
  • April 24: Sleigh Bells (IMU Main Lounge)
  • May 2: M83 (The Pageant, St. Louis)
  • June 11: Destroyer (Blue Moose Tap House)

Happy My Bloody Valentine Day

LovelessRather than buy some expensive shit like jewelry or disposable goods such as flowers and candy, send your sweetheart to this Music or Space Shuttle? post, where he/she can listen to the gorgeous sonic assault of MBV (and the visuals are sorta interesting too, in most cases)…

“Only Shallow”

“To Here Knows When”


“You Made Me Realise”

“Cigarette in Your Bed”


“Honey Power”

“Don’t Ask Why”

“Lose My Breath”


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 (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.”