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19

Nov

2011

thedeathofspacesandcapitalletters?

By Jake Scissorman. Posted in Indie, Shoegaze, Trends | 3 Comments »
Melissa Arpin and Scott Cortez of lovesliescrushing
Melissa Arpin and Scott Cortez of lovesliescrushing

For those of you with English degrees – and we all know there are more of you than you’d care to admit – the World Wide Web has proven to be a stubborn and resourceful enemy of grammatical correctness. It isn’t just that forum posters, news-site commenters, and bloggers (like me!) insist on ignoring virtually every rule of grammar, punctuation, and spelling consistency in the book; most of them refuse to admit the book even exists. “Let’s just crowdsource the rules of grammar,” they often say, as if this weren’t completely contrary to the whole purpose of language, or as if “crowdsource” were even a real word. And the web’s ubiquitous domain-naming system (DNS) merely adds fuel to the fire, with its uncaring approach to capitalization, and above all, its complete non-support of the space character.

Meanwhile, the use of invented (and sometimes elaborate) portmanteau words as band names has been a feature of the ambient and electronica genres for years, particularly since much of that music originates in Germany, a country famous for bumping words up against each other for no apparent reason other than that they can. But not to be outdone, a number of new guitar-based shoegaze and post-rock acts – often lumped into the so-called “nugaze” subgenre – are now taking things a step further, by combining their refusal to use spaces between words in their band names with a concurrent refusal to capitalize any of the letters in them whatsoever.

When did this phenomenon begin? It’s difficult to say for certain, but most shoegaze and dreampop fans would probably point their collective fingers directly at lovesliescrushing, who formed in East Lansing, Michigan in 1991 – four years before most people knew anything about the internet. But despite being perfectly positioned to take advantage of the language-bastardizing rules of DNS, this heavily My Bloody Valentine-influenced band, formed by Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin (who later went on to also form astrobrite, whose song “pinkshinyultrablast” was later used as a band name by Russian shoegazers pinkshinyultrablast), has apparently never bothered to establish a significant internet presence. To this day, the domain name “lovesliescrushing.com” is available for anyone to grab and do whatever they want with, including start a music blog like the one you’re reading right now. So clearly, this band was not inspired to eschew spaces and capital letters by mere vagaries of modern technology.

It’s just possible, however, that they were inspired to do this by Slowdive, whose first EP, “slowdive,” appeared in 1990 as part of the first wave of UK-based shoegaze acts. Officially, the band itself was also called “slowdive,” and none of their records ever displayed the band name starting with a capital “S,” though they rarely made an issue of this with reviewers, critics, publicists, bloggers (like me!) or anyone else.

Perhaps even more interestingly, lovesliescrushing (or even Slowdive) didn’t actually start a trend, at least not immediately. Most, if not all, shoegaze bands happily used spaces and proper-casing well into the 21st century. Indeed, it wasn’t until 2004 that a Brian Wilson-influenced “popgaze” band from Rhode Island released their first album as thebrotherkite, entitled thebrotherkite. To this day, most music-retail websites (which are, after all, not operated by actual human beings) cannot make the connection between the band that released this album and the exact same band that released the fantastic Waiting For the Time To Be Right in 2006, by which time they had already begun to sense the futility of asking people to respect their “special way” of displaying their band name, and started calling themselves “The Brother Kite.” And close on their heels were Montreal’s destroyalldreamers, who released A Coeur Leger Sommeil Sanglant that same year. But that entire album was sung in French, with French song titles, so in their case most English speakers (like me!) probably just ignored them.

In 2005, Leeds’ iLiKETRAiNS, who can perhaps be best described as a “tragedygaze” band with post-rock underpinnings, began releasing their first singles – challenging reviewers the world over to correctly reproduce their highly idiosyncratic version of “camel-casing.” But in another retelling of the same (appropriately) tragic story, they’d begun calling themselves “I Like Trains” by the time of their 2008 EP, The Christmas Tree Ship – an instrumental album ostensibly inspired by the 1912 sinking of the Rouse Simmons in Lake Michigan, with all hands (and well over 5,000 Christmas trees) lost. And, needless to say, those of us who were fans of this band since the beginning have steadfastly refused to switch, for no reason other than sheer bloody-mindedness.

Since then, however, things have changed. The Scene That Somehow Continues To Celebrate Itself has welcomed several new no-space, no-caps bands into the ranks, including thisquietarmy, 65daysofstatic, thingswillbedifferent, thehappymask, and broaddaylight (though the latter might be disqualified, given that “daylight” is usually one word and you really have to bump up at least three to be part of this club). All of these bands are worth checking out, especially if you enjoy the sort of gauzy, reverb-drenched sheets of guitar distortion popularized by Kevin Shields on My Bloody Valentine’s classic (and yet, for most people, unlistenable) album Loveless.

And yet, it should be remembered that My Bloody Valentine never once failed to include spaces or capital letters in their song and album titles. So will these bands also abandon their no-space, no-caps philosophy in favor of someday having a chance at seeing their name displayed “correctly” in a publication, of any kind whatsoever (other than the one you’re reading right now)?

onlytimewilltell.

lovesliescrushing, bloweyelashwish
65daysofstatic, We Were Exploding Anyway
pinkshinyultrablast, Happy Songs For Happy Zombies
thingswillbedifferent on MySpace
thisquietarmy on Bandcamp
thehappymask, thehappymask 2011
astrobrite on MySpace


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3 Responses to “thedeathofspacesandcapitalletters?”

  1. 1
    thisquietarmy Says:

    interesting article, though maybe not completely accurate! thanks for this though – for my part, the destroyalldreamers & thisquietarmy were a direct hommage to lovesliescrushing… i posted some clarifications & comments from my personal perspective on my facebook page. cheers! -e.

    https://www.facebook.com/thisquietarmy/posts/204035839673054

  2. 2
    Jake Scissorman Says:

    Thanks for visiting! I guess I mentioned Slowdive mostly because I’m just so inordinately fond of them in general, but it’s a good point that it’s only two words. More importantly, I really should have listened to the destroyalldreamers album again before I posted this – in fact, I’ve got it playing right now, and I realize now that there’s no singing whatsoever in any language, French, English, or even Liz-Fraserese. So for the mistake of thinking I remembered what was on that album and not checking, I have no excuse! Perhaps a correction is in order… It’s a good album, by the way.

  3. 3
    Ib Norstrand Says:

    If I may ad: Itsnotyouitsme (Caleb Burhans & Grey McMurray)
    http://www.emusers.org/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=1498&page=1#Item_1

 

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