LMJ3 / Steampunkfunk Bizarre’s “Totally Unexpected” or is it? – Steampunk Chronicle

LMJ3 / Steampunkfunk Bizarre’s “Totally Unexpected” or is it?

Mister M gives his thoughts on LMJ3 / Steampunkfunk Bizarre’s release, “Totally Unexpected”.
By Mister M on Jun 17 2014 Category:Media, Music

Like George Clinton’s P-Funk, Lord Montague Jacque Fromage III brings the message of the holy Funk. Whereas Clinton spreads the message “Free Your Mind… and Your Ass Will Follow,” Fromage reports on the state of the steampunk con scene. What’s Totally Unexpected from his latest missive is the way he looks at it.

First, the funk. It oozed together from Clinton’s bands Parliament and Funkadelic under the P-Funk collective. The album Mothership Connection introduced an afrofuturistic mythos similarly embraced by Sun Ra, the jazz pioneer from Saturn. Science fiction was used as a narrative for African American empowerment. Where P-Funk looked to outer space for inspiration, Lord Monty examines the steampunk convention scene from within.

This is not totally unexpected. Previous songs have touched base with the community. “WhaDitlz” pays homage to Professor Elemental’s rap prowess. “Mead” reflected on the beverage of choice from the Renaissance Faire wing. “Steampunk Is Dead” from the new album declares that steampunk is not dead, citing “thousands at World’s Fair” while name checking Teslacon, “Symposiums and Octopods and good Queen Mary too.”

What is unexpected is that in a climate in which con culture gender roles are being examined, Lord Monty has released an album that presents an andocentric viewpoint. In light of recent AnachroCon events and a larger discussion of fake geek girls, Totally Unexpected seems to be unaware of these gender issues. Three skits are devoted to the Steampunk Philosopher. The same backing track presents a complaint in dulcet tones followed by a rant backed by John Philip Sousical oompahing and a cry of “Don’t give up the airship!” The listener is addressed as “You” and is assumed to be male. The rants follow the lines of outdated nagging mother-in-law jokes. It’s probably meant to be barstool philosophy, but adding the Steampunk moniker does not do much for the community.

Fromage displays himself leeringly on some of the tracks. “(I Think You’re) Gorgeous” demands that the object of his affection “sit and beg” and “put your head into my lap and take me for a ride.” Surprise, the “bitch” in the song is actually a dog. By pulling a double entendre switcheroo, we find out that he isn’t degrading and loves his pet. While “Corsetry” addresses women’s fashion, it also urges, “Let’s have a glass of wine or two before your get unlaced.” At best, it acknowledges friskiness. It does not pair well with “White Chapel,” delivered from the Jack the Ripper’s predatory point of view. Some of this could be dismissed with the subtitle of “Chill (Soy Un Tonto),” or “I am a fool.” However, he lusts after the woman he left because he thought that she was untrue. On these tracks, he is not an observer from the mothership but an ogler.

As a funk brother from another planet (or another time), does he report on the scene or put his own values to the fore? I’ll be generous and assume that as an entertainer, he uses the tools of rap. Even Professor Elemental and Mr. B aim below the belt on occasion.  For a more positive spin, I recommend “How Steampunk Screws With Victorian Gender Norms” at Bitch Magazine. There is still some mind-freeing to be done.

Totally Unexpected by LMJ3/Steampunkfunk Bizarre is available for download at http://steampunkfunkbizarre.bandcamp.com.

Joe “Mr. M” Mason plays theremin and other oddball musical devices in the old-timey mad scientist band The White City Rippers and twangs washtub bass in the steampunk Britney Spears tribute band Spears and Gears. He also spins the amber oldies with the Lords & Ladies DJ crew.

The Steampunk Chronicle Mark Ryden’s The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music

The Steampunk Chronicle Mark Ryden’s The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music~


Mister M reports on The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music, presented by noted Lowbrown painter Mark Ryden…
By Mister M on Jun 17 2014 Category:Media, Music

One hundred dollars seems a bit steep for an LP of cover versions of “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two.” Lowbrow artist Mark Ryden released The Gay Nineties Old Tyme Music, a signed and numbered limited edition record on translucent red vinyl. Musical contributors include Nick Cave, Weird Al Yankovic, Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo), Kirk Hammett (of Metallica) and Katy Perry. Profits go to Little Kids Rock that provides instruction for Kindergarden through Age Twelve children who do not have music programs in their schools. The album was released in conjunction with Ryden’s Gay Nineties: West exhibition at the Kohn Gallery in Hollywood, CA.

Lowbrow grew out of underground art. It features a retro-aesthetic that often comments through humor, kind of like reading old Mad Magazines. Kitsch factors heavily. Mark Ryden’s work carries a soft, nostalgic surrealism. He combines occult symbolism, Margaret Keane big-eyed figures, Abraham Lincoln, Colonel Sanders and still lifes of meat (in the tradition of Rembrandt and Goya). Timelessness suffuses his paintings, but it is grounded by frequent references to the 19th Century.

Mark Ryden Presents The Gay Nineties Olde Tyme Music presents nineteen artists interpreting the 1893 number one hit “Daisy Bell.” The song was used as the first example of a computer to sing with speech synthesis on an IBM 704. HAL 9000 referenced this in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Who are the musicians and where can people hear them? Artist range from soundtrack darling Danny Elfman to noisy Goths Scarling to Metallica’s guitarist Kirk Hammett to theremin weirdo Ken the Magic Corner God. Many versions take a snarling, distorted cast, matching Mark Ryden’s decidedly odd nature. Weird Al Yankovic recreates a decidedly nostalgic version while the take by Sara Lov & Zac Rae is particularly lovely. Videos to accompany the songs can be found at http://www.porterhouseart.com/product_p/p113.htm.

999 editions of The Gay Nineties Olde Tyme Music were released on May 13, 2014. They were limited to one per customer and rapidly sold out. More of his work can be found at http://markryden.com.

Joe “Mr. M” Mason plays theremin and other oddball musical devices in the old-timey mad scientist band The White City Rippers and twangs washtub bass in the steampunk Britney Spears tribute band Spears and Gears. He also spins the amber oldies with the Lords & Ladies DJ crew.


Jordan Bodewell Nominated for Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award~

Jordan Bodewell Nominated for Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Award~

(Mr) Jordan Bodewell, from Sepiachord.com, VictorianAdventureEnthusiast.com, Steamcon and all around Pacific Northwest Gadabout, has been nominated for the “Steampunk Heart of Brass” Category in this year’s Steampunk Chronicle Reader’s Choice Awards.

He is in excellent company having been nominated with H.M. (from The Gin Rebellion) and Captain Bill Bill (Bill Harrison to his kith & associates).

He is terribly honored to in such good company!

Vote for here: http://steampunkchronicle.com/SPCAwards/Voting/tabid/513/Default.aspx


Mister M on “The Appropriate Kazoo”~

Mister M on “The Appropriate Kazoo”~

The illustrious Mister M chats with two acts about the kazoo, over at Steampunk Chronicle


The Appropriate Kazoo 
Music correspondent Mister M talks about two acts with clever use of a kazoo!
By Mister M on Jul 16 2013

When Mr. W and I formed the White City Rippers, we laid out a ground rule: no kazoos. It’s not that I’m anti-kazoos. I’ve ordered them from Kazoobie Kazoos (www.kazoos.com) for my family as holiday gifts. My nephews got brass instrument-shaped ones. My puppeteer sister-in-law got a  Wazoo with an amplified horn. With our accordion and theremins, we thought that there was already novelty aplenty.

Lo and behold, my travels brought me into contact with two acts who know the where and when for the appropriate kazoo. Pinch and Squeal are a Cleveland, OH, vaudeville duo; Brendan J. Stephens, the Vaudevillian, is a one-man busking band from Ontario.

Pinch and Squeal represent the wacky wing of burlesque. They embrace a tender corniness with an act full of puns, groaners and silly songs. The affection between real-life couple Jason “Pinch” Tilk and Danielle “Squeal” Maud’Dib Tilk comes out in the affection for their material. They recently funded a Kickstarter campaign for the traveling Voix de Ville, a pop-up theatre in a tiny tent.

Squeal’s kazooing works with her ditzy “Dumb Dora” persona. The buzz of the kazoo reflects her fizzy effervescence. She portrays the giggly airhead who is semi-aware of her sexuality. Squeal sings songs loaded with double entendres like “Brand New Key” or “Hot Nuts.” When she solos with the kazoo jutting out of her mouth, Freudian implications abound!

I first saw itinerant bluesman Brendan J. Stephens at Doc Merriweather’s Miracle Elixir and Medicine Show. He was howling and hollering, plucking and strumming his banjo and stomping out the beat with pedals kicking against a snare and the suitcase he sat on. I recognized songs from the Good for What Ails You compilation on Old Hat Records and “Walk Right In” (a 1929 song made popular by the Rooftop Singers in 1962). He won the crowd over with his one-man ruckus.

Stephens invented the Carzoo, a kazoo amplified through a car horn. Perhaps it’s because the car horn is antique, but the Carzoo sounds like it comes from another era. On the hardscrabble album Ragged. It leaps to the forefront. Seeing as how Ragged was “[r]ecorded in various basements and while busking throughout western Ontario,” it’s no wonder that the loudness of the Carzoo leaps to the fore.

I’ve found that the kazoo has its time and place, and that it can be silly or serious. It still doesn’t prepare me for the sticker shock of a solid sterling silver kazoo.

Mr. M plays theremin and other oddball musical devices (excluding kazoo) in the old-timey mad scientist band The White City Rippers and twangs washtub bass in the steampunk Britney Spears tribute band Spears and Gears. He also spins the amber oldies with the Lords & Ladies DJ crew.

Steampunk Chronicle Readers Choice Awards 2013~

Steampunk Chronicle Readers Choice Awards 2013~

Today is the last day for voting in the second annual Steampunk Chronicle Readers Choice Awards: http://steampunkchronicle.com/SPCAwards/Voting/tabid/513/Default.aspx

As we’ve mentioned previously, Sepiachord has nominated for Best Blog~ http://www.sepiachord.com/index/?p=5794

We’ve always said that, to us, steampunk isn’t a contest. But we have to admit that we were honored at the company were were nominated with:

Chronicles of Harriet: http://chroniclesofharriet.com/

Steam Ingenious: http://steamingenious.blogspot.com/

So instead of competing, we decided to take this opportunity to make new friends. So Sepiachord interviewed the two talented folks responsible for those wonderful blogs:

Balogun Ojetade from Chronicles of Harriet: http://www.sepiachord.com/index/?p=5856


Baroness Violet von Mickelsburg from Steam Ingenious blog: http://www.sepiachord.com/index/?p=5895

It has been, truly, a pleasure.


The Steampunk Chronicle Daily

Read The Steampunk Chronicle Daily

▸ today’s top stories via @ScottWesterfeld @Decimononic @sepiachord

http://paper.li/spcpress/1306438038 …

Dreadnought hoax


File:Virginia Woolf in Dreadnought Hoax.jpg

from the Wikipedia:

The Dreadnought hoax was a practical joke pulled by Horace de Vere Cole in 1910. Cole tricked the Royal Navy into showing their flagship, the warship HMS Dreadnought, to a supposed delegation of Abyssinian royals. The hoax drew attention in Britain to the emergence of the Bloomsbury Group, among whom many of Cole’s collaborators numbered.



The hoax involved Cole and five friends—writer Virginia Stephen (later Virginia Woolf), her brother Adrian Stephen, Guy Ridley, Anthony Buxton and artist Duncan Grant—who disguised themselves with skin darkeners and turbans to resemble members of the Abyssinian royal family. The main limitation of the disguises was that the “royals” could not eat anything or their make-up would be ruined. Adrian Stephen took the role of “interpreter”.

On 7 February 1910 the hoax was set in motion. Cole organised for an accomplice to send a telegram to HMS Dreadnought which was then moored in Portland, Dorset. The message said that the ship must be prepared for the visit of a group of princes from Abyssinia and was purportedly signed by Foreign Office Under-secretary Sir Charles Hardinge.

Cole with his entourage went to London‘s Paddington station where Cole claimed that he was “Herbert Cholmondeley” of the UK Foreign Office and demanded a special train to Weymouth; the stationmaster arranged a VIP coach.

In Weymouth, the navy welcomed the princes with an honour guard. An Abyssinian flag was not found, so the navy proceeded to use that of Zanzibar and to play Zanzibar’s national anthem.

The group inspected the fleet. To show their appreciation, they communicated in a gibberish of words drawn from Latin and Greek; they asked for prayer mats and attempted to bestow fake military honours on some of the officers. An officer familiar with both Cole and Virginia Stephen failed to recognise either.

When the prank was uncovered in London, the ringleader Horace de Vere Cole contacted the press and sent a photo of the “princes” to the Daily Mirror. The group’s pacifist views were considered a source of embarrassment, and the Royal Navy briefly became an object of ridicule. The Navy later demanded that Cole be arrested. However, Cole and his compatriots had not broken any law. The Navy sent two officers to cane Cole as a punishment but Cole countered that it was they who should be caned because they had been fooled in the first place.


During the visit to Dreadnought, the visitors had repeatedly shown amazement or appreciation by exclaiming, “Bunga! Bunga!” When the real Emperor of Ethiopia, Menelik II, visited England some time later, he was chased by children shouting “Bunga! Bunga!”. Ironically, the Emperor afterward requested to view the Navy’s facilities, but the senior Admiralty officer in charge declined to grant his request—possibly to avoid further embarrassments.[1]

In 1915 during the First World War, HMS Dreadnought rammed and sank a German submarine. Among the telegrams of congratulation was one that read “BUNGA BUNGA”.[2]

Contemporary media coverage

  • File:DreadnoughtHoaxCartoonDailyMirrorFebruary1910.jpg
    Daily Mirror cartoon, February 1910
  • Report dated London 18 February 1910, published in the Hobart Mercury, Tasmania, 24 March 1910
  • Report in the Evening Post, Wellington, New Zealand, 15 April 1910
  • Royal Navy officers are reported as taking revenge, in the Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 12 May 1910

    Missy Kitty Fantastico’s Steampunk Music Suggestions for Feb 28th~

    Shared by
    Jordan B

    sepiachord.com – Missy Kitty Fantastico’s Steampunk Music Suggestions for Feb 28th~ http://misskittyfantastico.tumblr.com/post/44207933592 Did you like this article? Share it with your friends!


    Virginia Woolf’s secret career as a science fiction writer who inspired Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

    Shared by
    Jordan B

    io9.com – Sometimes you come across a satire that sounds so plausible that you wish you lived in an alternative universe where it were true. Such is the case with this article from Check Your Facts about Vir…


    Album Review: The Church of Abject Sorrow

    Shared by
    Jordan B

    sepiachord.com – The Church of Abject Sorrow played stripped to the bone primitive rock that brings to mind greats like the Cramps and Nick Cave. This is raw-country based-noir/gothy-pissed to the gills-rage & sorr…


    Sepiachord –

    Shared by
    Jordan B

    sepiachord.livejournal.com – Sepiachord Playlist for the Week Ending Feb 24th~ Valentine Wolfe: Gaslight Fantasia Bad September: Tesla v Edison The Extraordinary Contraptions: Prelude to Nocturnis Adrian H & the Wounds: Memory…


    Sepiachord Playlist for the Week Ending Feb 24th~

    Shared by
    Jordan B

    sepiachord.com – Valentine Wolfe: Gaslight Fantasia Bad September: Tesla v Edison The Extraordinary Contraptions: Prelude to Nocturnis Adrian H & the Wounds: Memory Amber Spyglass: Harmonic Tide A Midnite Choir: Mi…


    Oofty Goofty – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Shared by
    Jordan B

    en.wikipedia.org – Oofty Goofty was the stage name of a sideshow performer who lived in San Francisco in the late 19th century. Oofty’s real name, background, place of birth and death are in some dispute. A mixture o…


    E. B. White – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Shared by
    Jordan B

    en.wikipedia.org – White was born in Mount Vernon, New York, the youngest child of Samuel Tilly White, the president of a piano firm, and Jessie Hart White.[2] He served in the army before going to college. White gra…


    Sepiachord –

    Shared by
    Jordan B

    sepiachord.livejournal.com – On February 28th, 2013 05:12 am (UTC), alfrecht commented: Incidentally, my dear professor: are you familiar with the work of Matt King? He’s a very interesting country-tinged SteamPunk musician ou…


    snopes.com: Louisiana Land Title Legend

    Shared by
    Jordan B

    snopes.com – Claim:   Lawyer is asked to demonstrate that the title to a Louisiana property was held before 1803. LEGEND Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 1999] A New Orleans lawyer sought a FHA (Federal H…



Months to Minutes: How ‘Prelude to the Nocturnis’ was made

Months to Minutes: How ‘Prelude to the Nocturnis’ was made
Professor Dimitri von Stadberg gives Steampunk Chronicle a behind the scenes look for ‘Prelude to t…
By ProfDvS on Nov 20 2012 Category:Editorials, Column, Media, Music

How does one make a music video? Well, if you’re a smaller musical group with a limited budget, you make up for the lack of funding with knowhow, talent, and a heck of a lot of help. When The Extraordinary Contraptions were casting about for assistance with making music videos, we submitted our suggested songs to a handful of creatives and film makers with whom we were already familiar. We had ideas and concepts for some, while for others we solicited ideas from the filmmakers. Adam Lowe and Ellaree Yeagley came up with the fabulous idea to tell the story of “Prelude to the Nocturnis” with cardboard cutouts. They wanted to play up the comedic elements of the story and make it very fun, which, as anyone who follows the Contraptions knows, is right up our alley.

The next large step consisted of working with Adam to develop a detailed storyboard for each individual shot that would comprise the four-minute music video (for any budding movie-makers at home, taking sufficient time on this step will save major headaches when the camera is rolling). From there, we approached Rory Gordon of Dragon*Con TV and MomoCon notoriety to advise us on the actual feasibility of our planned video shots and to eventually become our videographer for the shoot.

With Rory’s advice and adjustments accounted for, we set about assembling a team to handle the remaining tasks. Patrick Freeman from Dragon*Con TV and Bob & Carl, Sci-Fi Janitors was kind enough to lend his prodigious editing and post-production chops to the project. Adam and Ellaree headed up a team of artists to design, construct, and paint the sets and props. A host of notables from the Atlanta steampunk community pitched in to lend additional props, perform as actors on-set, and to work behind the scenes to ensure the shoots ran smoothly. Meanwhile, the band scrounged and scrounged to come up with most of the supplies for low-or-no cost (Thanks for the cardboard, REI!) and we worked our various connections to secure a venue in which to shoot. We spent countless hours building, organizing, planning, transporting props, assembling costumes, and finally shooting and editing video.

One of the largest challenges to beset the project was time, and timing. With such a large group of people coming together to work on a project, especially one that doesn’t offer a salary, it was often a struggle to find time in which all necessary parties could be available to shoot. We made sure to carefully plan around the fact that not every actor was needed for every shot and we did our best to make sure that actors spent as little time waiting around to perform as possible. Compound this with the limited availability of our venue and the hours of setup and breakdown time that needed to be built into every shooting session and we really had to make sure to juggle our time carefully.

Amid the hectic work schedule numerous challenges, all involved strove to maintain the creativity of the project, instead of it becoming just a job. We think it a credit to the incredible creative team that came together to undertake this project that this creativity and artistry shows through into the final product. We also endeavored to keep the attitude fun and lighthearted while working together, glimpses of which can be seen in the outtakes and bloopers that accompany the credits at the end of the clip. The 4-5 minutes that made it to youtube represent an effort that lasted for many months. We Contraptions are all extremely pleased and proud of the result. Have a look and see what you think!

Professor Dimitri von Stadberg is the singer/bassist for Atlanta-based steampunk band The Extraordinary Contraptions.

RPG review: Deadlands: Reloaded

RPG review: Deadlands: Reloaded
from Steampunk Chronicle:

M. Gabriel Colbaugh reviews Deadlands: Reloaded, the second edtion of the classic weird west RPG.
By mgcolbaugh on Oct 30 2012 Category:Media, Steamlife

Deadlands: Reloaded is a RPG setting released by Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Primarily designed and written by Shane Lacy Hensley and BD Flory it is an updated version of the original Deadlands released in 1996. The current book uses the Savage Worlds system also written by Hensely. Deadlands books are largely sold in PDF form on the PEG website now. The Player’s Guide retails for $14.99 and the Marshal’s Guide for $19.99. The latest version of the Savage Worlds rulebook currently retails for $29.99 on Amazon or $9.99 in PDF form on the PEG website. It’s recommended you also have a deck of cards and three colors of poker chips for the game as well.

The Book:

Pinnacle has always taken pains to ensure well formatted books with lush art and easy to find information. There is a great deal of reused art and images that hail from the original version of Deadlands. Rather than detract from Reloaded, this helps to bridge the gap between the two and present new readers with a look at what was. The editors did an excellent job of keeping the art direction of the illustrations consistent while still showing some variety from the macabre to the stately.

Deadlands: Reloaded also offers a smooth read. Chapters are divided off into easy to peruse sections and aren’t overly bloated. Information is consistent and doesn’t feel all over the place. The book also goes right to the point as far as updating all information from the first edition so there is no confusion on how things have changed.

The Setting:

The game has always been built around a horrific version of the romantic ideals of the Old West as created by a group of demons known as The Reckoners.

The Reckoners are collection of demons that hope to bring Hell to Earth through their agents. The primary villain for this is a Sioux Medicine Man named Raven and his associates working together to curse the ancestors of European invaders and help bring about the destruction of the world as it’s currently known. The result is the dead walking among the living, California being radically changed due to a series of devastating earthquakes, and the introduction of magic and a mysterious substance called Ghost Rock to the world. Ghost Rock would lead to the creation of hundreds of advanced and incredible inventions, though burning the substance also causes a horrific and disconcerting screaming sound.

This extended the Civil War beyond its historic boundaries as soldiers continued to return from the dead and kept fighting. Eventually the war would end in an uneasy cease-fire as the country was split between the Confederacy, the Union, and a number of other groups carving out their own kingdoms in the harsh west.

As an interesting note the writers went out of their way to eliminate most discrimination from the setting. While it’s not a completely blind utopia, people of color and even women are more likely to be able to exist in society and hold important positions and jobs without many of the barriers that were common at the time.

There are two things that could throw someone off of enjoying the Deadlands setting. The first is that it’s unabashedly Western. While there are still cities that can be used for the purpose of a more urban game, such as Shan Fran or Chicago, it’s a game that pulls heavily on the romantic ideals of the old west. If this isn’t your bag, then it could cause some consternation.

The other is the heavy fantastical elements found in the game. Science in the game has a capital S, driven by the Ghost Rock mentioned earlier. Hucksters use the magic of the demons against them in order to manipulate the environment around them. Miracles are not only quantifiable but far more common, able to heal horrific wounds and drive off the nasty monsters found throughout the world. If you prefer only hard science fiction with your Steampunk, then you may not care for the setting either.

The System:

The game uses Savage Worlds rules, a quick paced system designed to keep things going so as not to detract from storytelling. Dice involved are the full spectrum as attributes and skills range from a d4 up to a d12, with d20s also used. The game includes the standard mix of derived stats such as initiative and speed. Characters are able to take Edges and Hindrances that allow for boons such as better dice pools and magic, or impediments such as lost dice to make things more interesting.

Character creation is fast and combat is designed to be equally quick and brutal. Unimportant enemies largely fall at a single attack while heroes and major villains are allowed to last longer.

One interesting mechanic is the use of bennies, or Fate Chips. Fate Chips are poker chips that allow a person to alter the game in some small way in exchange for allowing the Marshal to the same. In Deadlands, this can range from being allowed to re-roll a skill to being allowed to add an addition d6 to results. This can change the direction and fate of the game considerably.

Deadlands also uses poker hands in order to determine how successful magic is. Rather than simply roll for results, the player gets a hand dealt to them.  Based on how good of a hand you are able to put together, you get a number of Power Points. These Power Points are then used for determining the strength and range of the magical effect.

Whether or not someone enjoys how Deadlands plays is dependent on how well a person gets into the Savage Worlds system. If you like rules designed for speed but that can be a bit limiting at the beginning, then you’ll like the nuances of the system. The addition of bennies and cards can make it all the more interesting. If you prefer the chance to really toy with points from the get go and stick mostly to dice, then it may not be as much for you. This is a system that is capable of going very deep or very shallow depending on the needs of the game master.

The Verdict:

Deadlands is a Weird Western game first and foremost. While there are a considerable number of Steampunk elements in the game, in no small part due to the Mad Scientists and their incredible creations, you can tell the setting was designed with the romantic ideals of the Old West at the forefront. Gunslingers dot the landscape and local law enforcement is considered to be one of the few lines of defense against the Reckoners and their horrors. Huge monsters straight out of western legend and local myth create terror for the small communities they surround and prey on. One could argue that it’s these mysterious and mystical creatures that are more important to the setting than any jet pack or flame thrower.

Is the game fun though? In my opinion, this is a resounding yes. The setting is imaginative and offers a variety of game potentials from more political and subterfuge all the way up to a full on spaghetti western style adventure. The monsters and villains of the world are varied, both in style as well as difficulty. Your players will be hard pressed to run out of challenges when one considers that the only way to save the world from the Reckoners involves a trip to South America that they may never come back from.

This is easily one of my favorite game settings and systems out their currently. To anyone looking for an excellent western game or a solid Steampunk setting, buy this game and play it. If nothing else the, Savage Worlds system will give you a good starting point for your own Steampunk settings with rules that are as deep as you need it to be. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Deadlands: Reloaded and Savage Worlds

Deadlands~ “Fish out of Water” vintage adventure, free http://www.sepiachord.com/index/deadlands-fish-out-of-water-vintage-adventure-free/

Correspondent M. Gabriel Colbaugh spends most of his time serving as a technical writer for a waste-water treatment firm, but otherwise spends time writing about steampunk and enjoying fine haberdashery.He lives in Las Vegas with his wife and two furry children, River and Isabela. He also works to maintain the Las Vegas Steampunk Tea Society with a host of others.

Telling Folk Stories of an Alternate Timeline

Telling Folk Stories of an Alternate Timeline

from Steampunk Chronicle:

Mister M gives his review of Austria-Hungary 1957, the new album from Bad September.
By Mister M on Oct 23 2012 Category:Media, Music


“WunderKammer” from Minneapolis’ Bad September’s new album Austria-Hungary 1957 was playing while I was sewing patches on the leather vest I picked up on eBay. My wife Liz came down for her morning coffee, and she saw the CD sleeve on the kitchen table. “Is this Bad September? They sound like that Mekons song ‘Ghosts of American Astronauts.’ Or The Decemberists.”

“Yeah, they have that folk sensibility but with rock energy.” Liz concurred.

Allow me to elaborate, with my own idiosyncratic take on things. Folk music is not necessarily acoustic music (although you can hear cello, viola, concertina and acoustic guitar on the album). Folk songs follow the oral tradition of storytelling. The songs are set up so that that there is a narrative story. The lyrics are often uncomplicated and rhyme so you can remember them and pass them along. Folk is by, for, and of the people.

Rock is louder and needs amps.

Put the two together and you’ve got an inkling of what listening to Bad September is like.

The devil is in the details, and the details are what make up the band. Their previous release, 2010’s The British EP, examines various 1840s British labor movements with an alternate history take. Austria-Hungary 1957 looks at a mid-century alternate Europe. The focus seems to be on the Eastern European and Germanic side of things (albeit with detours in Cadiz and Paris).

“The Turk” tells the story of an actual historical chess-playing machine later revealed to be a hoax. “Knight’s Tour” is a follow up song, using the metaphor of the puzzle of moving the knight around a chessboard and stopping on each square only once. “Mountain Wreath” sings of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip with cries of “Sarajevo!” and “Gavrilo!” The chess imagery continues with the lyric “What have I done for my people?/My fate at the edge of a knife./ Am I just a pawn for my father?/Is that worth the price of my life?” “Tesla vs. Edison” re-imagines the inventors’ rivalry as a duel to the death.

Other tracks call for revolution. “Haute Couture” looks to fashion as a possibility: “The time has come to make something that matters.” “AschenLied” takes a more incendiary approach.

The folk elements reveal some limitations for the band. Ambition occasionally overreaches ability. Some notes are just out of range, both with vocals and instruments. There is a sense of musical expansion and progress from the EP to the full-length album. There were more bum notes on the EP, but a few still crop up on the new release. I’m not sure if this is an oversight of the band, or if it’s an intentional display of ragged charm. It shows an almost-punk honesty, but the punks covered it up with speed and distortion. At times the lyrics tend to be dominated by structure. You need the verse and the chorus, and the lines have to rhyme. They work overall, but every now and then, there’s some clunkiness.

Bad Septmeber sticks to their retro-futurism. The combination of old and new plays out in the their folk and rock instrumentation. Don’t confuse this with the folk rock of Buffalo Springfield or Crosby, Stills, Nash and/or Young.  It’s more about looking at the past that looking to the past. Bad September knows its history, and knows how to use it for (steam-powered) exploration.

Austia-Hungary 1957 was released on August 21, and is available at their website store.

Mr. M plays theremin and other oddball musical devices in the old-timey mad scientist band The White City Rippers. He also spins the amber oldies with the Lords & Ladies DJ crew.

Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon Goes Down Smooth

Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon Goes Down Smooth

from Steampunk Chronicle:


Assistant Media Editor Liesel Hindmann reviews Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon, the latest album from Mur…
By ApprenticeLiesel on Oct 23 2012 Category:Media, Music


My introduction to Murder By Death is a story (to quote their song ‘Ghost Fields’) “full anger and steam.” In Spring of 2011, I had been on tour with The Extraordinary Contraptions that were bookended with appearances at Steampunk World’s Fair, Marcon and the now deceased World Steam Expo. Steampunk World’s Fair that year had been interesting, to say the least. There were plenty parts of the con that were fun, but so much had gone wrong that it was a very personally and professionally frustrating weekend that has since been a part of my convention grading scale.

I probably would have gone to bed on Saturday night just to escape the crowds and wind down from my exhaustion if it hadn’t been my absolute determination to see this band that our drummer Corbin Abel Welch could not stop going on about.

You have probably guessed by now that the band I’m referring to is Murder By Death. They had been billed as one of the big headliners of that weekend along with Professor Elemental. They had never played a steampunk convention before and they had been in complete awe of everything that they had seen in the day they had been there.

I guess by the end of the night, I was in complete awe of them. Their stage presence is immense, magnetic, and emotional. I knew none of the lyrics, but I was completely blown away by how they rocked out that hotel ballroom. So much so that I had to tell Corbin he was right about them as soon as we exited the room.

It’s been about a year and a half since that first show. Corbin’s lost to the mists of time now, but my love of Murder By Death has remained. Along with that show in Piscataway, New Jersey, I’ve seen them in Anchorage, Alaska and Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve listened to their albums obsessively to take in the layered instrumentation and Adam Turla’s emotional and anachronistic storytelling in his lyrics. The albums that get the most listening time from me are 2006’s In Bocca al Lupo and 2008’s Red of Tooth and Claw, but after many listens, I feel like their latest album Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon will also be getting a lot of my time.

Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon is something of a milestone for Murder By Death. Their sixth studio album, it’s been released during the ten year anniversary of their first album Like The Exorcist, But With More Breakdancing. It’s also the first album they’ve recorded with new member Scott Brackett. Both of these factors play a huge role in how the album sounds musically. Mixing sounds from across their career, the album is the true definition of anachronistic punk rock. However, there’s also an extra layer that has been added thanks to Brackett’s multi-instrumental skills that it’s surprising that he hasn’t been in the band longer.

Starting with the sparse, industrialization rejecting ‘My Hill,’ the album unfolds into individual stories about small town living and the darkness that comes with it. From stories of death and disappearances to nostalgia for a time that may have not actually existed, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon has a certain familiarity for those of us who grew up in a small town. With a touch of anachronism, natural imagery and magical realism, of course. ‘Lost River’ and ‘Hard World’ are great examples of this. The former being a siren song of a drowned man wishing for his lover to join him and the latter being inspired by the disappearances of Bloomington, Indiana residents Lauren Spierer and Crystal Grubb.

For steampunks wanting something a bit closer to what they know with this album, their best bets will probably be the tracks ‘I Came Around’ and ‘Ditch Lilly.’ ‘I Came Around’ was the first single from the album and is a swinging song filled with accordion and mandolin about an Irish wake. Never has a song about attending and drinking at a funeral for someone you didn’t like been so happy.

As for ‘Ditch Lilly,’ the song is much darker. It sounds like a love song for broken people, but upon closer inspection of the lyrics, it’s actually closer to a Frankenstein-style love story. It’s a beautiful kind of unsettling creepiness that should be familiar to literary inclined steampunks.

My personal favorite track though is the closer ‘Ghost Fields.’ It takes all of that magical realism and applies it to those who have left the small town behind in a strangely bittersweet song. It doesn’t justify all the darkness that came before it, but seems to long for those who made it more bearable. Turla claims not to be eloquent within the songs lyrics, but I think it features some of his best lyric writing to date.

Amazing lyrical storytelling of small town darkness with a musical sensibility that mixes punk rock and folk music, Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon is a gorgeous album that tells the story of Murder By Death up until this point. It also shows that after more than 10 years as a band, they are still willing to grow and add to their sound. Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon is their best album so far, but I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon was released through Bloodshot Records and can be purchased through the label’s websiteas well as Murder By Death’s webstore.

Liesel Hindmann is the Steampunk Chronicle’s Assistant Media Editor and Backing Steam columnist. She is the Apprentice of Internal Machinations and Operations for The Extraordinary Contraptions and considers herself a lover of media from multiple dimensions. You can follow her on Twitter as well as her blog: The Diary of a Dimension Hopper.