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Steampunk Tunes for the Holidays

A look at holiday-themed steampunk music, or is that steampunk-themed holiday music?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Many musicians have holiday songs in their repertoires, and steampunk artists are no exception. Two, Unwoman and Valentine Wolfe, are out with new Christmas albums, which join existing recordings from Abney Park, The Eternal Frontier, and others. We offer here a roundup of tunes to help you get into the steampunk holiday spirit.

Winternight Whisperings

Unwoman’s new Tiny Christmas EP features four covers of songs previously available only to her Patreon subscribers: “Last Christmas” (written by George Michael), “Santa Baby” (originally sung by Eartha Kitt), “Winter” (originally from Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes) and “Silent Night.” The latter was inspired by Simon and Garfunkel’s “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night,” which included a simulated newscast.

If you’re one of the unfortunate folks who haven’t heard her music, Unwoman is a gifted singer/songwriter/cellist who frequently performs at steampunk events. She’s also an expert producer, and her recordings often feature multiple layers of vocals and instrumentals.

The Tiny Christmas EP is available on Bandcamp for a tiny price of $3USD. As with other tunes on Bandcamp, you can buy it for yourself or send it as a gift.

Valentine Wolfe is a classically-trained duo from Greenville, South Carolina who describe their music as “Victorian chamber metal.” Winternight Whisperings, released at the end of November, is a full-length album that includes Christmas-themed ghost stories plus “We Three Kings” and “Silent Night.” The music, dark and atmospheric, is complemented by Sarah Black’s heavenly soprano vocals. The album is available for $7USD on their Bandcamp page.

Eternal Frontier

The Eternal Frontier, consisting of Professor Adam Smasher and Baron Von Zipple, often appears at steampunk events, especially in the Northeast U.S. (they’re pictured above). In 2016, they released Season’s GEAReetings from The Eternal Frontier, an EP consisting of three original compositions plus “Snoopy’s Christmas,” first recorded in 1967 by The Royal Guardsmen. These are catchy, light-hearted rock ’n roll tunes featuring a Steampunk Santa Claus, robot reindeer, a ray gun under the Christmas tree, and other silliness.

A digital download is available for $5.99USD from CD Baby.

Abney Park offered its take on holiday music in 2012 with Through Your Eyes On Christmas Eve. The title track is an original composition with a catchy folk-rock sound. The rest are mostly traditional holiday songs, including “O Holy Night,” “We Three Kings,” and “The Little Drummer Boy.” There’s also a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “’zat You, Santa Claus?” and a quirky version of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from the Nutcracker Suite. It’s available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services.

Also from 2012: Clockwork Carols by the Deadly Nightshade Botanical Society, a band founded by ex-Abney Park guitarist Robert Hazelton. This EP features arrangements of five holiday classics: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “What Child Is This,” “Oh Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” The latter is an instrumental. It’s available on Amazon.

A Very Steampunk Christmas is an aptly named 2010 EP from The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing. It includes two original compositions, “Ebenezer’s Carol” and “Fox,” plus raucous versions of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Silent Night.” Don’t expect it to show up in any easy-listening channels. It’s available on Bandcamp and iTunes.

“Steampunk Christmas” by Len Orcino is a three-minute orchestral arrangement of “Jingle Bells,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” and “Deck the Halls” with instrumentation that includes pots, pans, and whistles. The score is available for sale at C.L. Barnhouse Company, but you can also listen to a free recording on the website. Orcino is a retired music teacher in the Cleveland area. His compositions also include “Around the World In 80 Measures,” which squeezes tunes from 18 countries into two minutes and 48 seconds.

Of course, if there’s an official steampunk holiday, it’s probably one that falls earlier in the year. That’s the point behind “Halloween for Christmas,” a song from Frenchy and the Punk’s 2014 album Cartwheels.

“What I want for Christmas is a time machine, to take me back to Halloween.

“’Cause that’s the holiday that makes sense to me, when goblins and ghouls come over for tea.

“No amount of tinsel will make me be, as happy Halloween.”

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