Music

Spacehog: The Hogyssey

Devon Powers

Spacehog

The Hogyssey

Label: Artemis
US Release Date: 2001-04-17
Amazon
iTunes

The year was 1995 when Spacehog hit the world with their silver-bullet hit, "In the Meantime". It was the era when Oasis was gonna live forever, when Kurt Cobain sightings were rivaling ones of Elvis, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers could do whatever they wanted and everybody cared. Rock music was big and bold and everywhere, singers opened their mouths wide, world domination seemed eminent. It was as though, for a moment, music had descended from another planet and, lord, were we in trouble.

Which makes you wonder, today, where in the world is Spacehog? Or maybe a better question is, why in the world is Spacehog? Or better yet, from what world is Spacehog? On their third release, The Hogyssey, Spacehog confirms suspicions that while they may not have been on another planet for the past several years, they appear unaware that the musical world has evolved.

The biggest disappointment on The Hogyssey is that it sounds like little more than an addendum to their first big album. While they were innovative with their intergalatic sounds back in 1995, the same gimmicks in 2001 sound overdue, and even, well, over. The opening track, "Jupiter's Moon", opens with a short acoustic solo before plunging into a reverberating distortion ala R.E.M.'s Monster. Next, Royson Lagdon's voice sneaks in, pointlessly apologizing for its size, like Shaquille O'Neal trying to sneak in to that open seat in front of you at the movies. I mean, come on. It's not like you're not going to notice. The rest of the song, though expertly produced and neatly layered, hangs together unconvincingly. "This Is America" opens much more boldly -- with the sort of pulsing guitar riffs you like to think went away with the Presidents of the United States of America -- and clinches the disappointment with lyrics, "The Statue of Liberty / Lost her virginity to me." It's speaking to pop-culture-gone-crazy, overstimulated, do-nothing/know-nothing nihilism, but sounds more like it was written from that vantage point rather than having anything more to say about it. When Lagdon sings "Whatever happened to you / Whatever happened to me / I think that says it all," it really does. I don't know what happened, either.

This isn't to say that the entire album is a loss, though. There's a couple of really worthy numbers. The large-and-in-charge "I Want to Live" matches an "Eye of the Tiger"-esque triumphalism with fun cock-rocky guitar and drums. "Dancing on My Own" has a bizarre, faraway charm. Even the least satisfying songs harbor that stick-like-chewing-gum-to-the-bottom-of-your-shoe kind of quality to them. Parts of the album are charming, whitty even, and Spacehog has enough heart to not take themselves too seriously. But basically they spend most of this album trying too hard to emulate others -- Eddie Van Halen, David Bowie on an off day, themselves in 1995. And they spend too little time taking altenative rock -- which, arguably, they're one of the few purveyors of these days -- to a place where it's doing something new.

I was in high school when they were in their heyday, and it was a time of routine Spacehog when everybody truly believed there was nothing beyong flannel, headbanging, and watching 120 Minutes. At the time, Spacehog offered a glimpse into the future Spacehog the direction that alternative rock could go with a little courage and penache. I just wish someone had told Spacehog that they'd need to keep on pushing the envelope.

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image