Week five of the official countdown winds to a close, and we have to ask ourselves, “how does it feel to be an eighth of the way through the countdown?” Well, it doesn’t yet feel any different than when I started. The amount of confidence I have in this project has not changed. I’m still having fun with it. I’d like more readers and more commenters (real ones, not the robots telling me to monetize my blog), but the internet is a crowded place full of ideas. My idea, though it seems unique and interesting to me, may not resonate with a larger online audience. Maybe these stories and opinions are only interesting to me and those who know me. Whatever the case, we’re here, and we’re here to talk about this week’s featured artist Spacehog.
I came to Spacehog like I came to Toadies. They had a big single in the late Nineties, I liked it. I picked up Resident Alien a little later, and The Chinese Album shortly after that. Unlike Toadies, I kind of lost track of them after that. It wasn’t until late last year that I even realized they had a third or fourth album. Not long after that, I was able to acquire them. So I’ve had years of familiarity with the original two albums, and months with the second two. I did realize this week that that didn’t really matter. The third and fourth album are as good as the originals, in both good and bad ways. They are as good, but don’t add anything new.
But once again, I am not here to be a music critic. I don’t have the qualifications for it and am, truthfully, too opinionated. I am here to talk about why Spacehog, a band that most haven’t heard of or haven’t thought of in almost twenty years gets a ranking on my list.
Well, first of all, Spacehog has always been a “never skip” band. There are no times where I’ve said “I’m not in the mood for Spacehog right now.” Now, that’s a good mark for them, but they’re hardly the only band in that category. Artists I’ve already talked about, like LCD Soundsystem, have that distinction as well.
Second, there is a healthy amount of nostalgia when I listen to Spacehog. They first showed up on the radio in my late high school years. They came back around in my post-college years. It was a nice bookend to my failed college career. That’s a lot of the reason that I love Spacehog. They were there playing In the Meantime as I was making plans to leave home and head off to college and opportunity. They were there again playing Mungo City when I came crawling back home after two failed semesters. It was helpful to have that consistency, especially when I wasn’t feeling so great about myself.
Those reasons are both good, and got them ahead of a couple of the bands on the countdown. Yet there is a somewhat silly, somewhat sentimental reason that they are a part of the countdown. They are actually the reason the countdown exists.
I was laying on my couch on a fine Saturday night in July. I had decided that the best way to spend my Saturday night was to lay on the couch, play Word Whomp on my phone, and listen to music. What can I say, some days you just want to listen to music and kind of veg out. So, as I’m sitting there, Zeroes by Spacehog comes on. I paused my game and just started thinking about the voluminous mass of music I have, and how important it is to me, and how much of an impact it has had.
Sitting there, listening to that song, I started to think about a blog I did long ago where I talked about music. The plan then was to write about one random song every day. It was fun, but I found that I was getting upset with it over time. Luck was not on my side, and many of the songs I wrote about I did not have the personal connection with that I desperately wanted to talk about. I found that I was trying to talk more about the actual music, like “I really like what they did with the beat there” bullshit that I am nowhere near qualified enough to make interesting. And it was crap after a while. And I felt it, and I started to miss posts. I would let it slide for a couple days, catch up on a weekend, and then repeat the bad habits and disinterest that would have me catching up on posts the very next weekend. So I just kind of walked away. But there were moments that I loved it, when a band or a song came up that really meant something to me or would let me tell a story. Those were the times I loved writing it.
So I’m listening to Zeroes for the second time through, and I’m thinking that I need to find a way to talk about music again. This is a common lament for me. I would love to just sit around and listen to music with people for the exclusive purpose of talking about music or telling anecdotes related to certain songs or discuss bands that they may have heard or may not have heard or may have heard and never explored, and in turn be talked to about music in the same way. But that’s a big ask. In my friend group, a conversation that stays on track for more than ten minutes is usually about something serious and bad. Other than that, there are always sidebars and tangents and interrupted stories and inside jokes, and I frankly would not have it any other way. An ex-girlfriend of my best friend once complained that she didn’t want to hang out with us because our conversation was “hard to keep up with.”
So I’m listening to the song and trying to come up with a way that I can talk about a band like Spacehog, maybe shine a little light on an underappreciated band like that. Or maybe talk about the bands and artists that have truly shaped me and my life. And I’m sitting there thinking about it, and I realize that I should do a countdown of some sort. Then I think about my upcoming milestone birthday, and realize that a top forty countdown is quite a clever way to celebrate a fortieth birthday. And thus, this list was born.
Spacehog is a unique band for me. I’ve never been a fan of glam rock. The Glam rock artists I like best are the ones who just stopped off there for a time, like David Bowie or Iggy Pop. It’s never been a go-to genre for me as much as others are (like any genre with the word “industrial” in it). But Spacehog found a way into my playlist, and over the years I have never regretted it. Maybe it’s all nostalgia. That’s fair, but I don’t think it tells the whole story. Maybe it’s some sort of music snobbery to talk about a band like Spacehog and pretend I’m better than others who didn’t recognize how good they were. It would be the first time I have been accused of music elitism. As my friend Josh and I say, “I’m not elitist, I just don’t like music that sucks.” Maybe they just have the right song hooks to keep snaring me, and I’ll never know why. That’s okay, I’m just happy they at least inspired me to make this countdown.