Robots, Smiles, and Harmony
by Lex Chase
Steam Powered Giraffe's latest charms and disarms.

Steam Powered Giraffe
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The 2ยข Show



Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up, step right up to The 2¢ Show. Within the red velvet tent you will be entertained and dazzled with the razzmatazz Steam Powered Giraffe, the musical automatons from San Diego. Listen in delight to their steam powered three-part harmonics and be carried away where the music never ends.

What can be said about Steam Powered Giraffe that can't be said without smiling? The band's sophomore album The 2¢ Show is what a smile would sound like if the expression was audible. From bouncy toe-tapping odes about steamboats, to love ballads about finding love with pilot, to the haunting lament of lost love, who says robots have no soul?

The 2¢ Show opens with the easygoing swing of "Steamboat Shenanigans" where SPG front man Rabbit lures listeners in for an easy ride down the muddy Mississip where "the music never ends." The opening track strikes me as the most family friendly, even for small ears, with lines that reference a never-ending fountain of chocolate and vanilla milkshakes. As an adult listener that can't resist dissecting things, I'd like to think "Steamboat Shenanigans" has hidden inside a few metaphors for eternal happiness in some kind of afterlife state. Who's to say the river in question isn't the River Styx? Only SPG can say for sure.

The standout track on the album is the ethereal ballad "Honeybee." Initially released as a single before the album's completion, Rabbit, played by Christopher "Bunny" Bennett, had gone on record that he wrote "Honeybee" about an ex-girlfriend. May this anonymous girl be forever thanked for letting Bennett give listeners such a cathartic, sweet, heartfelt melody that will stick in your head.

Other notable tracks such as "Me & My Baby (Saturday Night)," "Rex Marksley," and "Airheart," span a peculiar range of sounds throughout the CD. "Me & My Baby (Saturday Night)" bears a slight flavor of Phil Collins and Genesis, or even Hall and Oates, with the smooth 80s groove vibe. "Rex Marksley" harkens back to the cowboy crooners Riders in the Sky even with the similar relating a tale of a Wild West (or perhaps Weird West) legend. "Airheart" goes elsewhere with a ditty-bopping style of the 50s that conjures images of sleek airliners and stylish baby blue PanAm stewardess uniforms.

There are a few tracks that aren't as memorable. "Ju Ju Magic", for instance, is fairly forgettable. The repetitive lyrics only succeed in being annoying because if you don't remember the verses you'll at least remember "Ju Ju Magic, Ju Ju Magic, Ju& Ju& Magic." Trust me, I do. I'd rather I didn't. Considering the family friendly nature of Steam Powered Giraffe, "Ju Ju Magic" will likely be a hit with the 12 and under crowd.

There's also a few other small chinks in SPG's nuts and bolts automaton plating. Due to the group's three part harmony, similar tempos, instrumentation, and arrangement of songs, some of them tend to all blend from one to the other. The standout tracks stick out quite obviously, and the others don't seem varied enough. Rabbit and The Jon are difficult to differentiate from one another because of similar tone. If you haven't had the benefit of seeing them live, they sound like the same person. The Spine, on the other hand, with his swaggering bass, you always know when he chimes in.

Looking through the flaws, like The Jon's occasional short circuiting, and Rabbit's squirrely eyed stare, "The 2¢ Show" remains a fun listen as well as an album that's appropriate for any music lover, steampunk fan or not. If Steam Powered Giraffe keeps up with capturing happiness in sound, the next album will likely be just as full of toe-taps, shoulder bops, and ear-to-ear grins.

Author Bio: Lex Chase

The origins of Lex Chase are the stuff of legend. Discovered in a cocoon on the back of a fruit truck, her mother wanted to name her "Kiwi." Luckily, common sense intervened, so Pomelo it was.

While she plots the liberation of her fruity brethren, Lex is a journalist by day, novelist by night, and full-time cat parent. Her fiction focus is on supernatural adventure, where paranormal protagonists go on grand journeys to save the world and maybe themselves. She blogs about her writing adventures at and shares a picture of the occasional kitten. When all of the little girls in first grade said they were princesses, there was no mistaking Lex was a Martian.

You can find her frequently on that Twitter squawky box thing @westiebee


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