Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Online Sources for Dieselpunk Music

In the previous posting I wrote about good online sources for diesel era music. In this post I address sources for dieselpunk music online.

It’s important to reiterate that one should not confuse dieselpunk music with productions from the diesel era. Diesel era music is important for dieselpunk in that it provides inspiration for the creation of something new much in the same fashion as the classics of the ancient world provided inspiration for the new creations of the Renaissance. Tome Wilson, web master of Dieselpunks Forum and without doubt a leader within the dieselpunk community, explained that, "Dieselpunk is a contemporary mashing of those classic aesthetics with something new, not a rebranding of the original." Wilson has stated what has largely become the standard definition of dieselpunk music.

(Radio City by Stefan Prohaczka)

It might help before I cover online sources that I provide a list of many of the bands and individual musicians that, while many might not call themselves "dieselpunk," are often listed as being dieselpunk artists and bands:

Wolfgang Parker
End Times Spasm Band
Big Rude Jake
The New Monty Show
RPM Orchestra
Gas House Gorillas
Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers
Squirrel Nut Zipper
Atomic Fireballs
Brian Setzer Orchestra
Cherry Poppin' Daddies (before they went back to their Ska roots)
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
The Puppini Sisters
Robbie Williams
Son of Dave
The Big Six
Indigo Swing
Eight to the Bar
Leon Redbone
Lee Presson and the Nails
Diablo Swing Orchestra

Now we’re ready to review the online stations. Unfortunately, while there are a lot of choices dedicated to diesel era music the online choices for true dieselpunk music are few.

Dieselpunks Forum
A great source of dieselpunk music is the Dieselpunks Jukebox found on the Dieselpunks Forum. The Jukebox provides six amazing hours of commercial free music for your listening pleasure. As the site states, the Dieselpunks Jukebox, "blends tunes from the classic era (inspiration for dieselpunks) with modern dieselpunk artists." At the Dieselpunk Jukebox not only will one hear quality diesel era classics but also hear great dieselpunk music from bands and artists such as Wolfgang Parker, Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Puppini Sisters and Royal Crown Revue.

Another choice is LastFM. After setting up a free user account one chooses the "Radio" feature at the top of the page. This is where the list I gave comes in handy because typing in "dieselpunk" will result in odd collection of mostly goth and electronic. To create a station that plays dieselpunk music you need to type in a specific artist or band.

For example, I created my preferred station by inputting the name of Wolfgang Parker, my favorite dieselpunk musician. Not only did I have songs by Parker but the site listed with him Bellevue Cadillac, Indigo Swing, Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers and Royal Crown Revue among others.

While LastFM is great it has its limits. First, it’s only free to those inside the UK, US or Germany. Those in other countries must establish pay accounts to listen. Second, if you’re like me you prefer browsers such as Firefox, which has an AdBlock plug-in that prevents not only pop-up ads but also the irritating flashing embedded advertisements so common to pages such as Yahoo. For LastFM to work one must disable this feature. As a result the page is one of the most cluttered web sites with irritating advertisements that I have ever seen. Finally, sometimes LastFM seems to forget what choices one has made and will start playing something completely unrelated. After repeatedly choosing the ban button I found that at times I had to stop the player and reload the station.

In the previous posting on classic diesel era music I recommended Pandora Radio, which uses the Music Genome Project to tailor its music to your preference. While in the last posting I recommended Pandora for blues it can be used to access dieselpunk music.

Just like LastFM, Pandora won’t recognize "dieselpunk" as a genre to create a station. So one needs to know the name of a dieselpunk band or artist and then create a station to match. Unfortunately, like LastFM, Pandora also has some problems. The most glaring flaw is its lack of selection. Pandora fails to include in its library several major dieselpunk bands and artists. For example, neither Wolfgang Parker nor Big Rude Jake will give results on Pandora. To add to this Pandora’s listening range is even more limiting than LastFM in that it only works within the US. Finally, while there isn’t the screen clutter of LastFM there’s an occasional product commercial.

So there you have it. If you want a mix of quality diesel era classics along with fantastic dieselpunk music then the best choice is the Dieselpunks Jukebox. It’s commercial free and all one has to do is sit back and listen. If you want just dieselpunk music with no classics then, in my opinion, your next best choice is LastFM, which has a great variety of dieselpunk music. The problem is that it’s free service is limited to only three nations and the page has excessive screen clutter. Plus, the fact that LastFM will sometimes fail to properly learn the style of music and will start feeding unrelated selections. Finally, the last choice is Pandora. A major problem is Pandora’s lack of selection though it can be good if the band you’re interested in is their library. While Pandora lacks the screen clutter of LastFM it does have occasional product commercials and it’s only free, with a 40 hour limit, inside the US.


Anonymous said...

I recently discovered electro-swing through Parov Stelar's "catgroove" and the YouTube phenomenon surrounding the young man dancing to said tune (the kid's phenomenal, he moves like an amalgamation of Buster Keaton & Michael Jackson). It's essentially London house music that samples big band and swing. Jumping enough to clean house to, smooth enough to read the Sunday paper w/a cup of coffee to, superior driving music. Don't know if it neatly fits the definition of dieselpunk music, but I likes it.

Larry Amyett, Jr said...

Thanks gritchkitty for the info. And I appreciate you reading my blog.