This month I’m featuring all new artists that I haven’t mentioned before. Two of them will be on the podcast soon, so look for Ambush Vin and Chamber Band in the coming weeks.
Ambush Vin – SciFiMusic (NSFW)
I’ve mentioned many times that I love it when albums tell a good story, so Ambush Vin’s album is right up my alley in that regard. It very much reminds me stylistically of Alpha Riff and TekForce, both of whom make appearances on the album. It’s a really strong debut.
The story of the album is told in just a few of the songs, not all of them, and is fleshed out nicely in both ebook and comic form. It’s a pretty complicated story, but I’ll attempt a brief summary: there are 38 multiverses each overseen by a Pieru (Pee-AI-Roo). The multiverses are threatened when 37 of the Pierus are found dead by the Pieru of our universe, Spatium. Suspecting the Mastigi, the bad guys, Spatium unintentionally enlists the aid of Ambush Vin to help him find out what has gone wrong. Like I said, I’m vastly oversimplifying, but that’s more or less the gist.
Stand out tracks on the album include “Darth Prefectus,” in which, in an ironic twist, Ambush Vin has to take on the role of a Sith Lord in order to save one of the multiverses. At first I was a little skeptical about the song “Who, What,” but when I talked to Vin about it for the podcast, he explained that it was basically a story of a couple of punk kids somehow getting ahold of a TARDIS and riding around in it to hit on girls. That’s a pretty funny concept. There’s also a couple of geek celebratory songs which are really good: “Geeky Girl” and “Geeked Out.” It’s so great to have more of these songs out there in the world.
It’s awesome to see newcomers to the nerdcore scene really bring it with their debut albums. I have definitely seen quite a bit of growth in the years that I’ve been writing about geek music, and Ambush Vin truly represents a new era. I’m looking forward to what he does next, but for now I’ll just keep listening to this release!
Victor Sierra – Go for the Strange
Victor Sierra is a steampunk band from France who contacted me about reviewing their album. As an aficionado of steampunk, and especially of steampunk music, I knew I had to give it a listen. And I was not disappointed. The music fits very strongly in the same category as Abney Park’s brand of steampunk music, but with some very definite differences.
As someone with a degree in linguistics, I have an obvious love of languages. Victor Sierra’s lyrics are mostly in English, but they also have songs in Spanish and French. I love being able to brush off my Romance language skills while listening to the music, though I admit they are pretty rusty. “El Mundo Superior” stands out among the Spanish tracks while “Atlantis” shines among the French ones. But of course, all of the tracks on the album are very good.
Among the English language tracks, I particularly enjoy the closing track, “Long Life to the Hydrogen Queen,” an homage to the airship of Victor Sierra. There’s also a Christmas track (yes, I know October is way too early for Christmas, but whatever), “The X-mas Case,” about Santa Claus in the modern era. I really like this take on the Santa Claus mythos; he can stand to get an update for sure.
As of the writing of this review, the full album has not yet been released, but there are two preview tracks (one of which is not on the album, but represents their sound well) on Victor Sierra’s Bandcamp page. Look for Go for the Strange soon, and be sure to grab it as soon as it’s released!
Chamber Band – Careers
I first became aware of Chamber Band when I saw a mention that they were playing with Kirby Krackle. Their first album, Deities, took me by surprise with its quality, both of storytelling (the songs are basically love songs / laments to the gods set in various Dungeons & Dragons universes) and music (indie rock). Again I see a noticeable increase in the quality of geek music in recent years.
Their second album, however, just completely blew me away. Their style reminds me highly of The Decemberists, who are also adept at creating fictional universes and weaving stories in them. The voice of the lead male singer of Chamber Band, Chris, is even reminiscent of Colin Meloy.
After listening to the album, I knew that there had to be a story behind the songs, so with a bit of investigation (it’s not immediately obvious when looking at the Bandcamp page), I discovered that they are set in the Hunger Games universe. Now, I’m not a huge fan of the series (I read the first book, but it just didn’t grab me), but that’s part of the beauty of Chamber Band: you can completely enjoy the music without even realizing it’s about that universe. And I have no doubt that you’ll get even more from it if you are.
I think by now it’s obvious that I love covers of songs, and Chamber Band have included two that they felt fit within the universe of The Hunger Games: “One Headlight,” originally by the Wallflowers, and “In the Colosseum,” originally by Tom Waits. I listened to both as previews before the album was released, and they did what a good cover should do: interpret the song in a new and interesting way. In the context of the entire album, however, they are woven in so well that it was as if I was hearing them again for the first time. Just incredible!
As for the originals, well, they’re pretty incredible as well. Songs about geeky things can turn off people who know nothing about the topics, but Chamber Band doesn’t hit you over the head with references to Panem or Katniss or Peeta or whatever. Actually, the Hunger Games aren’t even mentioned by name at all. It’s more like a subtle fan fiction that’s set in the world inhabited by those characters. It actually makes me want to go read the books (or at least cheat and watch the movies) so I can grok the songs even better.
In case it wasn’t obvious by now, Careers is easily one of my favorite releases for the year. It actually had me before I reached the end of the first song and just continued to deliver, song after song. Even if you’re not a fan of The Hunger Games, you truly owe it to yourself to check out this album. It’s absolutely amazing!