"Kiss The Misfits", by Felix Hagan & The Family - Album cover.I have long maintained that there’s a key spirit of Steampunk music which doesn’t need to fall within the Victorian era, or be about goggles or gears; I love those things, but the true heart of Steampunk culture is that Do It Yourself, fiery passion, a refusal to be satisfied by the “ordinary” Universe, and an outpouring of creative possibility; as Men Without Hats put it, “We can act like we come from out of this world, leave the real world far behind.”

With that in mind, here are three defiantly anthemic songs which have real Steampunk souls.

Felix Hagan and the Family, “Kiss The Misfits”.  I’m biased, because I absolutely love Felix Hagan.  But there’s a reason behind it; they create music about the grandiose, glorious struggle to make truly original things and bring them to an audience.  There are few subjects more near and dear to my own heart.  This is the title song of their recent EP, and it will make you want to do exactly what the chorus says: “Kiss the misfits, dance with the punks!”

Adam Ant, “Stand And Deliver”.  You might know Adam Ant; he’s been making mockingly, glimmeringly charismatic punk-glam-pop music for decades now.  He’s seen it all, the punk movement, the scifi of the 80s, the peculiar evolution of the 90s–and then he’s just kept making music straight up to the present day.  Here’s a very young Adam Ant, in a music video whose era clearly predates the Victorian era by no more than, say, twenty or thirty years; there’s just a tad too much Revolutionary War for this to be the 19th century, but I don’t care about that; I want the dandy highwayman to leap through windows and frighten all the staid and stolid gentry!

and then

Jethro Tull, “Too Old To Rock & Roll”.  Steampunk purists would assuredly tell me that this band is too well-known to be Steampunk; that the video covers too many eras, only some of which appear to be 19th-century; that a mad flute player isn’t their idea of an airship pirate.  To them I say: Nuts to you!  Jethro Tull is in their fiftieth–yes, fiftieth!–year of making music.  Sure, some of their work, including this song, can be heard on classic rock stations, but they’ve got literally a dozen albums (including several rock operas and concept albums, which are not easy things to make) – spanning all manner of subjects mythic, dystopian, unusual, and often previously-unexplored.  And there are few songs more subversive than this tune–written while the band was still young, and already anticipating the thing we’d later experience in the 1990s, that phenomena where rock-as-revolution had turned into rock-as-supermarket-background-music.  Tull has refused to stop or back down; they just create.  I’ll raise a glass to that!

-Jeff Mach
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