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The new Velveteen Band album, “What’s On The Other Side?”

The new Velveteen Band album, “What’s On The Other Side?” is exactly the album I hoped it would be: fun, well-written, slickly produced, and, most importantly, manages to capture the feeling and spirit of the band’s imaginative live show. The Velveteen Band is called and willingly courts the title of a “steampunk” band, whatever that means. Steampunk as a subculture seems to be more of a crafty art and fashion motif inhabiting the fantasy world of an alternative Victorian age mixed with science fiction and it tends to be less of a defined musical genre. This begs the question, “What does a steampunk band sound like?” Most of the bands working in this idiom gravitate toward an old-timey, Tin Pan Alley/faux-retro sound, looking to capitalize on this fascination with nostalgia turned inside out. While entertaining and fun as a one-off, these bands rarely develop past the narrow corners they’ve painted themselves into. The Velveteen Band’s self-titled first album treads these familiar waters but “What’s On The Other Side?” breaks out into more creative territory and defines itself in ten tracks with songs that are rock, metal, reggae, latin, pop, party, rap, along with the pirate shanties and shout-alongs one might expect from a band wearing top hats and airship pilot goggles. Such genre-bending and the inevitable tip toward the harder genres are practically habits for the band’s vocalists, local metal and punk veteran Jason Amelio of Fangboy and the Ghouls, and Dan Flores who brings a fresh perspective and sense of chaos and fun to any project he’s in. My favorite track on the album is the last song, “I’m Not Broken,” a straight-ahead inspirational rock anthem that could be lifted off this album and placed on almost any other rocker’s set and they’d be proud to have it there; but knowing it’s meant to be performed live onstage with two puppets and a 7-foot tall rabbit makes it epic.

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