Friday, November 02, 2012

Pop Culture Roundup

I've found myself greatly interested in the steampunk genre and subculture lately, which is totally the fault of the blog Steampunk Theology. I even had good intentions of putting together a steampunk costume for Halloween, but then I saw how much steampunk clothing costs on the internet, resolved to put together my own costume instead, realized how long such a piecemeal effort may take, and decided I'd work toward having something finished by next Halloween. In the meantime, I happened upon the Clockwork Century book series, which features steampunk...AND ZOMBIES. *head explodes* Upon such a wonderful discovery, I fired up my long-dormant Kindle and downloaded the first in the series, Boneshaker. I'm not too far into it at this point, but it's been pretty enjoyable nonetheless.

I finally made it through the first season of The Walking Dead. Other fans of the show will respond, "It's only six episodes. What took you long?" Yeah, I know. This first season was more of an introduction to the world in which the characters are stuck and how they respond to it. As one may imagine, hopelessness was a prevalent emotion, although the season finale reinforced for many of the characters that their main source of hope and reason for living would be each other. They've also begun to learn about the cause of the outbreak, or at least how the thing that causes death and reanimation works. But they're nowhere near a solution other than, "Well, we can't hide out here any more, so let's go find a new spot."

I heard Adele's song for the new James Bond film Skyfall the other week, and I found it to be awesome. Judge for yourself:


The Civil Wars, Barton Hollow - I really thought that I would like this more than I did. It's a stripped-down, acoustic-driven, man/woman duo producing reflective ballads. It could have been the mood I was in when I listened to it, but all the songs sounded the same. It may take a second or third listen, but I just wasn't able to get into this. It seems like something I'd put on and ignore while writing my spiritual direction paper. And the thing is, I'd choose other things to ignore before this. Is that my way of saying that this isn't even worth ignoring? I don't know. I'm willing to give it another shot sometime, though.

Delta Rae, Carry the Fire - I happened to see the video for this band's song "Bottom of the River," which very much had a country-blues vibe to it, and wanted to hear more. This band's sound is quite diverse, pulling from those two styles along with rock, folk, and Americana. Besides the song that served as my introduction to them, I especially enjoyed the reflective "Country House" and the uplifting "Dance in the Graveyards."

Zola Jesus, Stridulum - I heard about this album on a podcast where a guy wanted something ethereal and dark, and this was one of the albums suggested to him. I'd say the recommender was right on both counts, even though they guy ultimately didn't like it. I'm not sure that I did either. Zola Jesus seems to be an acquired taste thanks in no small part to her voice which can be quite grating. Some of the musical arrangements make up for it, but they weren't enough to make this something I'd want to listen to again.

Professor Elemental, The Indifference Engine - Professor Elemental is part of the "chap hop" genre, which is basically hip hop with steampunk sensibilities. See above about becoming a bit of a steampunk geek. Anyway, Professor Elemental raps about things like tea, his wild safari adventures, and being so mad that he orders his assistant to fetch him his fighting trousers.  It's goofy and fun and well-done lyrically and musically besides.

Abney Park, Aether Shanties - And to further this "becoming a steampunk geek" trend, I hadn't gotten around to listening to this particular album of quintessential steampunk band Abney Park until this week. This album doesn't have some of the gothic rock elements that I like from their other efforts; there's something more light and airy about this outing. But there remains the rich storytelling and the musical diversity that has made this band a favorite of mine over the past few months.