Need last minute Christmas gifts? Try music from some unique bands.

The past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on my music collection, organizing it, making new playlists. I even got a new mp3 player (mainly because I hate the way iTunes works and the fact that Apple makes it so that you have to use it to use any of their products). So I went Apple-free and got myself a Samsung Galaxy Player. There was some frustration, as one of the reasons that Apple works so well is because of that set system. They know exactly what hardware and software their devices will have and use that advantage to make it easy for things to talk to each other. For other operating systems, it’s harder, because you can’t know exactly what sort of device or computer your end-user will own. It took me the better part of two weeks to work out all the kinks with my device, but now that I’ve figured it all out, I’m very glad that I switched.

In any case, I thought I should share some of the music that I’m wild about lately.

First, I’m a nerd. Or a geek. I can never remember the difference between the two. My point is, I love video games, and I love video game music. Near the end of November, Andrew and I discovered that a favorite band of ours released a new album, and I’ve been listening to it (almost) non-stop since then. (Gotta save some airplay for Christmas music too!) The band is The Megas, and you can find their website here.

Their most well-known album is “Get Equipped”, based on the soundtrack to Megaman 2, the NES game. Andrew and I like them for their natural lyrics, baritone lead singer, and their ability to rock. Seriously, they took a snippet from the game that couldn’t have been more than a couple seconds long and expanded it into a full blown song!

The new album is “History Repeating: Blue” and is part of a two album set based on Megaman 3. Fans have been waiting a while for this one, but it was well worth waiting for. The band makes great use of some synth here (not too much), as well as editing to get great overlaying of the various vocal and guitar lines. Where “Get Equipped” had a lot more focus on the individual enemy robots, “History Repeating” has more focus on Megaman, and the enemy robots are more defined by their reactions to him than by their actual powers. The songs are a little darker in character over all, with a somber undertone throughout the album of our discouraged and tired hero. In fact, all the repeat characters seem to express a desire to get outside the roles they are traditionally cast in. I can’t wait to hear Protoman’s side in “History Repeating: Red”!

The other band that I’m always happy to find a new album from is Abney Park. You can find their website here. Abney Park started off as a goth/industrial band, and transitioned to Steampunk, which is where I discovered them. I’ve been trying to get every album of theirs since Lost Horizons. In fact, I have two albums that the band signed for me when I got to meet them at some conventions. They’re super nice in person, and very energetic.

I can’t list all their albums here, but since they changed genres to Steampunk, they’ve been identified as THE quintessential steampunk band. One of the nice things about their sound is that there is no aggressive drum set. They incorporate “weird” instruments like violin and accordion, even on stage! And they cover almost every type of steampunk with at least one song. Dieselpunk? Check! Clockpunk? Check! Airship pirate? Check! Mad scientist doctor? Check! You can definitely find a theme song somewhere among their discography. And they just recently released a Christmas album.

Speaking of discography, both of these are small bands. They’re not signed with big record labels. They work out of their homes and garages. That’s why I try to support bands like this by actually buying as much of their stuff as I can. And both bands exist very comfortably in the digital era. Abney Park offers a flat fee for access to download every track they’ve ever released, and they offer free listens of certain tracks from their website. Their albums average about $15, unless you want extras like autographs. The Megas offer a free listen of their albums on Bandcamp, so you can try before you buy and if you purchase their albums (about $10 each), they come with a free digital download so you can start listening right away.

Please support bands like these! The music industry tends to churn out the same old stuff, with new younger faces attached to market it. The old days of a garage band making it big are gone. If you have a friend who likes video games, or steampunk, or even just likes rocking out, please consider buying an album (or two) to keep cool music alive.