Post Mortem

A photographic account of heavy music in Portland, Maine

Earworm: Pigboat’s “Spaceship 13”


This is the second installment of our semi-regular feature “Earworm,” wherein we call out a locally written song for its greatness.

 By Ben McCanna

Post Mortem is a hand-to-mouth operation.

Aside from owning a few whiz-bang camera parts (which, truth told, are nowhere near professional-grade), I’m pretty much stumbling through life paycheck to paycheck in threadbare clothes and holey sneakers; paying bartenders with stacks of coins on days when folding money is scarce.

This isn’t a complaint. I’m satisfied with my station in life. For starters, I know firsthand that life can be much, much worse. But I’m also keenly aware of what makes me happy and, in my pursuit of it, I recently cast aside a decent, steady career so I could spend more time fucking around with a camera.

This choice requires some sacrifices, but, for the most part, the sacrifices are petty. For instance, instead of buying a couch, I recently opted for a couch-like pile of bean bags. Instead of fresh fruits and vegetables, I eat a lot of pasta. (See? It’s mostly harmless, like re-living my twenties at a time when I should know better.)

Pettiest of all sacrifices was my recent decision to buy a cheap-ass 8GB phone instead of something more useful. This basically means I have 150 songs stored on my phone instead of a googolplex.

It’s really not so bad. I lived through the 90s, after all, so I know what it’s like to receive music in 90-minute increments through a Sony Sports Walkman. (This was about 20 years before it was cool, mind you.) It just means that I get sick of songs a lot faster when the shuffle function keeps serving the same stuff over and over again with uncanny regularity.

And here’s where we arrive at the fucking point: There are some songs that bear repetition very, very well. Among the best on my phone is “Spaceship 13, You Are Forbidden to Dock” by Pigboat. The song was released in July on Pigboat’s second LP, Distracted by Adventures in Healthcare. (We kindly suggest earbuds.)

Every time this song pops up, and guitarist/singer Mark Belanger tears into the opening riff, I catch myself saying, “Fuck yes.”

This song has a lot going for it. It’s hook-heavy, concise and darkly comic. It also boasts terrific harmonies and a guitar solo that would fit perfectly alongside anything from Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream.

Its best attribute, in my opinion, is its tempo. At about 85 beats per minute, “Spaceship 13” roughly matches average walking speeds. More accurately, it’s just a tad slower than my walking speed, so the combination of its kickass guitar intro and the discrepancy between its tempo and mine causes me to downshift my pace and strut involuntarily.

That’s considerable power for a song to wield: causing a middle-aged man in bad sneakers to openly strut (and air-pluck along with Ed Porter’s frequent, cascading bass runs) without fear of shame or rebuke from whatever humanity surrounds me on Portland’s slippery sidewalks.

My second favorite aspect of “Spaceship” is when Belanger turns the name of a fairy tale character into a surprisingly useful verb.

“If I could only go Van Winkle,” he sings, “I wouldn’t have to do all this thinking.”

Who among us hasn’t shared that same exact thought at some point, but couldn’t articulate it as concisely as Belanger has? Germans, probably. But besides them? Anyone? Nope.

Finally, the track is gilded with soaring backing vocals by the disarmingly skillful Brant Dadaleares, whose upper register defines plaintive. To hear his singing is like a first-person glimpse into harrowing loss or longing. It’s a queasy, bottomless feeling that contrasts starkly and instructively against the petty complaints of everyday life.

Distracted by Adventures in Healthcare is available at Bull Moose.

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This entry was posted on December 10, 2014 by in About the author, Earworm, Pigboat.


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