I knew, from having heard their two songs, “Sioux City, South Dakota” and “House of Cards” that, musically, I had only marvelous things to say about Lemming Malloy. They set the bar very high for themselves with those two tantalizing little songs on their site, and so I admit, I was expecting a good deal from them at their debut show. Is that fair? I don’t know. I just figured, if someone takes the time to create a modded steampunk keytar, the music should be as cared for, too.

And I was not disappointed, not in the least.

From the second they stepped on the stage I knew that this was something different. This was something unique, lovely, and wonderful. The first opening chords of “House of Cards” were even more electrifying than in the recording, the voices of Mr. Cartwright and Ms. Spitzer melting together to pure audial happiness. I was bopping and dancing and singing along, riding on a current of energy, excitement, and steampunk musical goodness.

As the set progressed, the band never lost momentum. In fact, they seemed to be having a good time. Can I tell you how refreshing it is to watch a band perform that actually looks like they’re enjoying themselves rather than being moody, dark, and over performative? Goggles and Marvelons, suspenders and headlamps, the steampunk aesthetic is certainly a part of the magic–but really, it’s the smiles, the winks, the conversations with the audience that made Lemming Malloy’s performance at the Local 506 in Chapel Hill so amazing. I was totally engrossed in the songs, including those I knew and those I didn’t–I was so excited to see “Don’t Act Like Prey” and “Brother Rabbit” on the EP because I was totally wowed by them both (not to mention all the other songs I wish I had right NOW).

The Curse... of Greyface!

The Curse... of Greyface!

This is, of course, not to mention “The Curse… of Greyface” (ellipses are mine). Such fun!

The camaraderie and band banter was second to none, and I honestly can’t remember having this much fun at a concert since my son was born. Even better, it’s a local band that really, truly, rocks. Even my husband, who isn’t exactly a steampunk aesthete himself, was completely blown away and truly impressed by the band’s tight, happy, clever set.

The EP is also quite lovely to look at; it folds out into a poster, and includes all of the lyrics (which show you just how much craft Mr. Cartwright puts into the words he uses–footnotes and everything!).

I give the show five out of five gears!

Visit Lemming Malloy here.

Buy the EP!

Lemming Malloy at the Local 506 in Chapel Hill

Lemming Malloy at the Local 506 in Chapel Hill

Last night I had the best time at the Lemming Malloy concert! I will be posting a follow-up, but in the meanttime there’s some Flickr pictures for you to peruse. And don’t forget to visit their site, as well, and order their EP (which is on repeat here at the Barron-Harrison household).

I got the chance to interview Jay Cartwright of the new steampunk band Lemming Malloy and talk about all things steamy, marvelous, and musical. More than just a music interview, though, Cartwright also contributes some fascinating thoughts on steampunk in general, the power of music, and individuality (and of course, steampunk keytars).

Lemming Malloy’s debut album Avalauncher takes to the skies this week! Get it here!

Jay Cartwright of Lemming Malloy

Jay Cartwright of Lemming Malloy

Nothing says steampunk like a Marvelon.

In this case, I mean the steampunk modded keytar of the same name, prominently featured on the steampunk band Lemming Malloy’s debut album Avalauncher, and lovingly created and played by frontman Jay Cartwright.

Based out of Chapel Hill, NC, Lemming Malloy is comprised of Cartwright (on the Marvelon), Wendy Spitzer (bass), Joe Mazzitelli (guitar) and Dylan Thurston (drums). Their music is infectious: a rousing concoction of peppy yet complex rhythm, thrumming Marvelon, catchy guitar riffs, and harmonies both unusual and lovely.

Cartwright’s songwriting provides both ample musical and lyrical space, creating a layered whole that satisfies the guy who’s “just here for the music” as well as the one who wants to pore over references to Foucault and F. Scott Fitzgerald. As evidenced in our interview, Cartwright demonstrates he’s a a real song-crafter, one of those who writes from an amazingly rich place.

Lemming Malloy is a welcome and eclectic addition to the music scene here in NC, and certainly a wonderful new voice for steampunk adherents and dabblers alike.

You owe it to yourself to visit their website, snatch up the album, and take the next airship to audial bliss.

Natania Barron: So, first things first. Who is Lemming Malloy?
Jay Cartwright: We culled the band name from a favorite children’s novel of mine about forest creatures overrun by a cadre of animal Commies.  Also, many believe that lemmings run in mobs off cliffs to their deaths in an act of fatal conformance.  In actuality, this belief has root in legend and was only captured on film once–by a documentary crew who used trick photography to get the shot they wanted.

Avalauncher

Avalauncher

The metaphor is that as much as the establishment wants you to believe that lemmings are a mob-ruled conformist species, we all know that ultimately we cannot let them trick us into believing that this is true!  The same goes for our own species: HUMANS!  All of the above seemed to capture our feelings about the interaction between the group and the individual, the weak and the strong, and authority and the populace.

NB: What’s the background on some of your musical compatriots?
JC: Wendy, Dylan and I all met at UNC Chapel Hill.  Dylan and Wendy were both music performance majors.  Their background contributes to the tightness and ambitiousness of their playing.  The three of us played in the defunct Eyes to Space.  Joe was a supportive fan of Eyes to Space, and his recent project Invasion opened for us a number of times.  From many conversations with him at shows, it became clear we were quite musically aligned, and from watching Invasion, it was clear he could play!  When we formed Lemming Malloy, he was an obvious choice.  Wendy is currently heading her own project Felix Obelix, which also features Dylan and I, and she plays in the all-girl-skronk trio Gates of Beauty.

NB: Steampunk certainly extends well beyond the borders of your sound alone. Your costumes, your personas, your instruments–the Marvelon! Tell me all about the Marvelon.
JC: For most, steampunk is a genre born in literature.  My primary exposure to steampunk instead was through reading about the efforts of steampunk modders online who were re-fashioning their laptops and CPUs to seem as though they were steam-powered.  I played a keytar in my last band but smashed it to pieces at our final show.  I knew I wanted to make another one, and since steampunk was on my brain, I fashioned my new keytar to look Victorian.  Actually, technically I suppose it’s more Edwardian.  Our bassist Wendy nicknamed it the The Marvelon, and I thought that name was hysterical. (more…)

Yes, it’s been a bare week here at the Aldersgate Cycle. But no fear! Writing has been happening, interviews have been happening, such exciting fantastic things have been happening! It’s not for lack of ideas, just for lack of time.

Because she is so awesome, you can read another wonderful (and hysterical) article by Catherynne M. Valente on How SF Prepared Me for the FUTURE. I also worked myself last night, after reading her post from yesterday, and tried to see how many words I could type in 45 minutes of uninterrupted writing (gave myself a deadline, see how I did that?). The answer? 2,122. I don’t have any excuses for lagging behind in the writing, that’s for sure.

Want to listen to some steampunk music? Check out Lemming Malloy; they’re local to me, here in NC, and their album is debuting next week. I’m also interviewing them, so look for that early next week! I’m horribly addicted to the two songs on their MySpace page right now, and spent my morning dancing along to their infectious melodies (and the Marvelon!).

Anyway… that’s it for the moment. I’m off to pillage the local thrift store and the Home Depot. If I’m going to the Lemming Malloy concert, after all, I’m going to need something to wear. I just needed an excuse.

… oh. And just as I post this, here’s a great post that Paul Jessup just put up, too, about being a great writer and devouring your subject. You should read that, too. Thanks, Paul.