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Steampunk Music, Indie Bands and Steampunk Hip-Hop (e.g. Chap-Hop) Rhymes and Beats (Don't Just Panic at the Disco!)
Steampunk Music and Hip-Hop
The dauntless, dapper gentlemen and lovely ladies of the Steampunk subculture have a stage-ready theatricality with just their costumes. It comes as no surprise to learn that Steampunk has taken to the music scene, in metal, rock, alternative rock, and even hip-hop. (They prefer to call it "Chap-Hop"!) Want to know who some of the most prominent bands in the Steampunk scene are, today? Well, let me introduce you to Abney Park, Professor Elemental, The Decemberists, Panic! at the Disco, and the Mr. B, the Gentlemen Rhymer.
Steampunk Goth-Rock With Abney Park
The Steampunk subculture is often described as "Goths Discover Brown", and the Goth and Industrial sub-culture seems to be a hotbed of Steampunk activity. The nihilistic Goths have fallen for the DiY aesthetic, and the re-appropriation of the past.
Goth Band, Abney Park,reinvented themselves as a Steampunk act, infusing industrial, world-music, and Gothic sounds for a brand new approach to music that is as well-known for their stage shows as their signature sound. The band is named for a cemetery in London, and makes their home base Seattle, and they are the premiere musical act in the Steampunk Scene. Their stage shows integrate gadgets, burlesque, circus performers, and good music!
Chap Hop Hip-Hop with Professor Elemental
There's something genuinely charming about a man pretending to be a mad scientist rapping witty, comedic rhymes to solid, quality beats. Professor Elemental is the premiere purveyor of Steampunk Rap (rather, "Chap-Hop) in the world.
His impressive flow is bombastic, over-the-top, and often confrontational like the best of Hip-Hop. That it involves rallying cries for the consumption of Tea, a monkey butler named Jeffrey, and numerous references to the wonderful life of a mad scientist only makes this some of the funniest, silliest rap music on the planet. That it is such great music for the dance floor means no one will be able to deny the urge to move when Professor Elemental's songs burst forth from speakers.
Darling Indie Folk Rock Success Story, The Decemberists
The Decemberists were dressing dapper and singing lilting, lyrical masterpieces of decadent street urchin ghosts and rakish noblemen before it was cool. Though they are not explicitly "Steampunk" as much as they are inspired by folk music, punk, and the cultural symbols appropriated from England and Old New York from the Renaissance up to the early 20th century, no good Steampunk Music Afficianado would be caught dead without a tune or two, if not a whole album, from the Decemberists on their steam-powered digital Victriola (or iPod).
The Decemberists rose out of the music scene of Portland on a trajectory towards greatness based on their talent, gorgeous music, and distinctive approach to music in a scene dominated by Foo Fighter clones. Their sound preceded the rise of Steampunk culture, but is undoubtedly closely related to it.
Many Goths discovered the color brown for the first time while swaying, enraptured, at the feet of lead singer Colin Meloy.
A Gentleman Rhymer, Mr. B.
The other star of the Chap Hop scene is the Gentleman Rhymer, straight out of Surrey, and his signature sound reinvents the classics of Hip Hop and Rap to make them accessible to more refined tastes. Instead of playing Run DMC while playing croquet on the lawn with your local soccer-enthusiast club, play Mr. B.
Not only does he rap, he is a preeminent musical stylist of the under-appreciated instrument, the Banjolele. (That's a ukelele-sized banjo.)
Currently, Mr. B and Professor Elemental are engaged in a bitter rap feud. Undoubtedly this will culminate in a boxing match on the bowling green, Queensbury rules.
Panic at the Cotillion! I mean DISCO!
Newcomers to the Steampunk trend, emo-rock darlings Panic! At the Disco have long embraced a sort of aimless, shapeless costume drama theme, touching circus performers, burlesque dancers, and a general emotive style that seemed to be waiting for the clear focus of Steampunk. Critics may not consider this group truly Steampunk. They are newcomers to the scene, after all, and only explicitly joined up after it became popular.
Still, we were all young once. Their early style was ripe for Steampunk, involving dapper top hats, lovely coats and vests, and many visual elements that wouldn't be out of place in Steampunk, with a running thread in their music of freaky theatre Geeks trying to find love and happiness in a world full of normal people .
I think their Steampunk transformation is a genuine reflection of their natural progression as creative performers. Also, they're such adorable little rascals with their dapper ties and mascara. How could you deny the smoldering little gentlemen bad boys at your next gathering for your airship launch?