Steampunk Summer: Bring on the Bands

I have a dark confession to make.  Although writing has been my passion for almost 25 years, there's one thing I've loved even longer:  music.  I don't come from people who stay up all night reading.  I grew up learning that music can provide the perfect backdrop to any activity.  Music can change and craft your mood.  It can cement you in the moment or take you far away.  Music is something to be shared, enjoyed, and - if you have the time, money, connections, or willpower - hoarded.

So today is all about music, how artists create the sounds of an age that never existed.  Unsurprisingly, I've been listening to a few of these bands for a year or two, never imagining I'd be sharing them here.  Others I discovered through a fabulous website, Steampunk-Music.com, where you can find interviews, get updates, and listen to samples from dozens of bands from around the world.  Without further ado, here are the varied sounds of steampunk:

 If I had to describe steampunk music in a single band, I'd pick Abney Park.  Sometimes driving, sometimes melancholy, always interesting.  It's the kind of music you'd imagine air ship captains living to or pickpockets employing their trade to.  The mechanical sounds, string instruments, and impassioned backup vocals unite with the pop/rock you're used to and create something both masterful and mesmerizing.

If you want more strings, a lighter sound, and a fun yet gothic sensibility, you can't go wrong with Rasputina.  Music moods include everything from coy hopelessness to tongue-in-cheek assertiveness.  Rasputina provides the soundtrack for such diverse locations as a state fair, a hoop skirt factory, and an orphanage.  Their songs represent a wide variety of experiences from days gone by when one might turn to eating rats for dinner out of hungry desperation or be raised by an opium smoker.

For pure fun and more familiar acoustic guitar sounds, I offer Frenchy and the Punk.  Of course, there are tambourines and castanets, too.  Strong, gently husky female vocals carry you through silent movies, the circus, and the cabaret - and that's just on the pictured album, Hey Hey Cabaret.  Catchy song warning:  you will get these stuck in your head.

Unwoman is a new artist to me, but she's pretty hard to ignore.  The album I'm referencing here, Lemniscate, is a collection of covers done in her cello-heavy, electronically tinged style.  If you're new to steampunk music and just want to get your feet wet, here you go.  Familiar songs in a brand new, unique style.  Who else is singing "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes backed predominantly by strings and a basic drum?  And rocking it, I might add.

The Two Man Gentleman Band wouldn't directly equal "steampunk" to me, but since I enjoy their style and they're listed on Steampunk-Music.com, I'll include them here.  I know I've tossed the word "fun" around, but for unadulterated, quirky, make-you-laugh-til-your-stomach-hurts comedy, look no further.  I imagine bohemian types crashing an uptight garden party to this music.  Heavy on the banjo with all the vintage themes you've come to expect: drinking, playing croquet, falling in love, and singing to a police officer to evade arrest (or try to).

I'd call these my top five steampunk music picks.  I'm adding a widget here so you can give them a listen if you like - it's not supported if you're reading this on a mobile device, unfortunately.  You can listen directly from the Amazon website by selecting the album cover of your choice.

Tune in next week for more steampunk folly!  If you've got a favorite steampunk band and I missed them, share about them in the comments or on Facebook.

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