It fills our ears with sounds and our souls with emotions. Nothing else can take us from the highest highs to the lowest lows while only appealing to one of our senses. Music embeds itself in our memories and it can trigger a nostalgic response with only a few simple notes. I can go from riding in the car with my family to being 10 years old and playing with my Barbies in a matter of seconds because of a particular song.
I’ve always loved music. I grew up listening to some of the greats. The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Queen, Chicago. My parents had a lot of records that I’d listen to often. Some of my faves were Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond. In the 80s, when I started getting an allowance, I’d go to K-Mart with my family and go straight to the music section of the store and buy the most recent single on 45. (dang. I’m officially old) I still have many of those records, too. I know there’s a few Madonna ones, Whitney Houston, Billy Ocean (don’t judge), to name a few.
It was such a thrill to get that single home and put it on the record player and playing it over and over again; dancing unashamed in my PJs. Of course, we did move up to cassette tapes eventually. My dad’s
cheap ass frugality taught me that new doesn’t always mean better.
Of course, sometimes it does. Especially when it comes to the evolution of music. As I’ve grown and matured, so has my taste in music. Naturally, my days of listening to processed pop music are pretty much a thing of the past. (thank the goddess!)
There will always be older music that is nostalgic for me, that never really gets “old”. I’m a sucker for most 80s music because that’s what I grew up listening to. I’m also a sucker for a lot of early 90s music because that’s when I was a teenager, and you know how impressionable teenagers are. And it’s not that I think that all of that music is high-quality, unique music; quite the contrary. Some of it is just awful. But it brings back memories, so whenever I hear it, it is always with a fondness, no matter how terrible it is (e.g. Milli Vanilli, Boys II Men).
Over the years, I have found that there are a few bands and artists that will probably stay on rotation for me until the day I die. The Beatles, Radiohead, Tori Amos, Ani Difranco, and REM, to name a few. There have always been artists that I adore that aren’t “mainstream.” I prefer music that doesn’t seem to appeal to the masses. Ani Difranco is actually one of those artists; along with Oingo Boingo, Bjork, Crash Test Dummies, Sigur Ros, Ben Folds, Imogen Heap, and Amanda Palmer who is a more recent add to my list of favorites. And that is a very short list of musicians that I listen to who aren’t popular. Many of them have a pretty huge fan-base, but they were never quite “mainstream.”
I’m not a musician myself. I’ve never felt coordinated enough to play an instrument, nor was I ever encouraged to do so by my parents. My mom had a keyboard when I was younger, and I would mess around with that, but it never really went anywhere. I decided I could sing at some point, but have always lacked the confidence to prove it to anyone. I did join chorus in high school, and I had a lead part in a trio in the X-mas concert one year, but that was as close as I got to expressing myself musically.
But I LOVE music. It is a part of me and it resonates with every fiber of my being. Naturally, I married a musician. My hubs, Mister Bungalow, has a degree in music therapy. He also knows and understands the power of music. We tend to have the same taste in music, but his tastes branch off a bit towards more rock-based stuff. A couple of his favorite bands were STP, Alice in Chains, and Morphine. None of whom I listened to, really.
I have, in the past few years, discovered the music of The Avett Brothers, OK Go, The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap, and so many others. Music has been changing a lot in recent years. There is a bit of a return to older sounds from the 80s, but with a more modern twist. There seems to be more classic rock-influenced bands like The Black Keys and The White Stripes. The Avett Brothers are folky-rocky-bluegrassy goodness. Most can be categorized. All are great.
I can never get enough good, new music. My ears are like sponges for all things symphonic, harmonic, and melodic and probably a few other music-related terms ending in ic.
This brings me to the inspiration for this post. I have yet again discovered some beautiful new music. I want you to listen to this song. Just LISTEN to it.
This song and video changed music for me, yet again. To be perfectly honest, it has changed my standards for what constitutes really good music. This group is called Steam Powered Giraffe, and if you pay attention to my facebook page, then you are at least aware of them. They can’t really simply be called a “band” because they are so much more than that. They call themselves a musical pantomime troupe. The group consists of Christopher “Bunny” Bennet as Rabbit, David Bennet as The Spine, and Jonathan Sprague as The Jon; the singing automatons. Michael Reed, Sam Luke, and Steve Negrete are the humans that “assist” the robots.
Bunny and David are twin brothers, and they met Jon in college studying mime and musical theatre. Bunny is also an incredible artist who seems to be very inspired by the work of Tim Burton. He has a deviantART page if you care to check it out. It is dark and beautiful stuff. He also streams live art on Livestream on occasion, and it is fascinating and cool to watch.
But this post is about the music, so I have to try not to get too off track talking about the group’s many other talents.
The guys decided to put all of their talents and all the things they enjoyed doing most together, and form the group Steam Powered Giraffe.
There’s a back story, explaining the origins of the robots and the name of the group. It is very imaginative and detailed and well thought out. You can learn all about the robots on their fan page The Cavalcadium and on their website: www.steampoweredgiraffe.com.
Here’s another song for your enjoyment:
Great fun, right? I cannot get enough of these guys. Literally. I wake up with their songs in my head. I go to sleep with them in my head. I listen to them all day long. At one point, the hubs was getting annoyed because it’s all I listen to. That was, until we got to see them last weekend, and he now fully understands the genius of Steam Powered Giraffe.
The guys live in San Diego, CA; and do most of their shows out there. They started in 2008, busking at Balboa Park and the rest is pretty much history. They also played 70-something days straight at the San Diego Zoo last summer! And are doing it again this summer. The hubs and I are tentatively planning a trip out west to see them!
I really thought there was no chance I’d get to see them perform live, and when I found out they were going to be here in MI for the World Steam Expo last weekend, I knew we’d have to go see them. It ended up being a rather costly adventure, but in the end after meeting the guys and getting autographs and photos and HUGS! it was worth every penny. The kids loved it, the hubs loved it, and I am stillgiddy about it 5 days later!
Steam Powered Giraffe has changed the way I think and feel about music. I feel like a fangirl all the time. I haven’t felt this giddy and silly about a musical artist since I used to follow Tori Amos around way back in the day ( No, I am not comparing them to Tori. I am merely comparing the level of fanaticism I felt/feel for them.) It’s that kind of “Oh, mah SQUEEEEE!” kind of feeling I get when listening to them and seeing them perform. There is nothing like them out there. Nothing.
They have a DVD and 3 official CDs. Their DVD is fantastic. They did everything themselves. The direction, production, editing, graphics, design, etc. They are jacks of all trades. Here’s the trailer for their DVD:
You know you’re intrigued.
They also have a very devoted fan base. Their fans seem unlike others I have met. They are kind, open-minded people. Many of them are also talented artists as can be seen on tumblr; where they post their artistic homages to the guys all day, every day. SPG also has an official tumblr if you like to tumble.
With so much uniqueness, creativity, and amazingness; this group is going to stay at the top of my list of favorite musical artists permanently. I’mma be old and grey and bopping in my rocker to the sounds of Captain Albert Alexander and Rex Marksley!
Here’s their newest video please for you to enjoy. Oh, and watch for the epicness of Rabbit in this one, especially starting at 3:23. GAH! If daydreaming about sailing around the world in an airship with a 116 year-old automaton is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right.
These guys are the real deal. Of course, I know they aren’t going to appeal to everyone. Not everyone likes truly talented musical artists. Some people prefer listening to rap and mainstream country music. (heh heh. I kid. I know some of you lovelies like those genres, and more power to you if you do. I mean no disrespect. Well, I kinda do, but not to you. Just to the music you listen to. I mean seriously. Rap? These days it can barely even be called music. Yes, yes, I know I am offending some of you. Sorry about that. It happens.)
They are nice guys and so gracious, too. When we were at the WSE this weekend, they took the time to meet and greet and sign and pose for photos with everyone who wanted them. Every single one. Not too many artists will do that.
I know that standing in that line after the show, I got tired, and the kids were crazy tired, so I knew the guys in the group had to be tired after putting on their fantastical show. But I heard they stayed until the room was empty, and every one of their fans walked away with a smile. I was one of those fans, and I’m still smiling.
Thank you, Steam Powered Giraffe, for renewing my faith in musical performance and for opening my eyes and heart to something “Epic and so cool” .
On Top of the Universe~
I must give credit to my amazing, talented, wonderful, handsome husband for coming up with part of the title of this post. It was his idea to use “From Sgt. Pepper to Capt. Alexander”. I added the rest. Thank you, Chris. xoxo