Follow TV Tropes


Music / The Cog Is Dead

Go To

The Cog Is Dead is a Steampunk band from Florida whose musical styles range between folk, rock'n'roll, ragtime, reggae and beyond. Like Abney Park, their fictional backstory is that of a roaming airship crew, with the twist that they also travel through time. To date they have released four studio albums: Steam Powered Stories (2010), Full Steam Ahead (2013), Carnival of Clockwork (2015) and Songs Of the People (2019). Their lineup:

  • Captain John Sprocket (John Mondelli) - lead vocals, guitar, keyboard, ukulele, banjo, accordion and kazoo
  • Bradley Harrington III (Bradley Whalen) - Bass, Backing Vocals and Dialogue
  • Renate Goodwin - Drums

Old members:

  • Sir Christofer Wolfe (Chris Fowle) - Bass, Backing Vocals
  • Joel (Joel Dennerle) - Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • Mr. Tony Seville (Tony Mondelli) - Drums

John also voiced Professor Percival Pointer in Detective Grimoire: Tangle Tower.

The Cog Is Dead and their music provide examples of:

  • An Aesop: Many of their songs have messages in them. "Never Go Into The Woods" says that keeping your kids protected their entire lives is doing them a disservice. All you can do is teach them everything you know. Eventually, you'll have to throw them to the wolves and hope they come back okay. "Weird" says that being weird is 100% okay, and that the right people will love you for it instead of criticizing. "Burn It Down," as detailed below, shows that short sighted decisions can lead to disaster. "The Girl And the Clockwork Dragons" says that you should always try the peaceful solution, even if you don't think it's going to work, because you never know.
  • Ambiguous Robots: Leviathan fromThe Depths Below,
    "isn't quite a creature isn't quite machine" and possesses "A body made of metal But with a living brain"
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Their adaptation of "bad guy" by Billie Eilish changes the song to be about a mustache twirling Dastardly Whiplash sterotypical bad guy who is explicitly telling you he is up to no good.
  • Cattle Punk: The Copper War, The Iron Horseman
  • Clockwork Creature: The Inventor's Daughter, Mechanical Menagerie, The Girl and the Clockwork Dragon
  • Creepy Circus Music: "The Circus of Clowns," a song about a Circus of Fear containing several Monster Clowns. The tune prominently features a creepy music box melody and a swingy chorus.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: "Bad Guy" is about this kind of villain, a literal mustache-twirler who calls himself one-dimensional. Among his crimes are plotting world domination in his underground lair, and abducting a Damsel in Distress after she refuses to marry him.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In Burn it Down: Hooray, we burnt down the horrible factory! ...That was the only thing keeping the small town alive. Oh, and it's also above an oil lake.
  • Downer Ending: A Letter To Michelle at the end of Steam Powered Stories.
  • Fake Brit:
    • "The Inventor's Daughter" is sung entirely in a Stewie Griffin-esque voice complete with bad English accent.
    • The crew of Stuart the Sailor's ship in "The Ballad of Stewart the Sailor" are from all parts of the poorly-imitated UK, including Stewie Griffin's return.
  • Fake Radio Show Album: Steam Powered Stories is styled like an old-time radio show, complete with fake commercials and news breaks.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Lampshaded. The singer of Bad Guy calls himself "one-dimensional" as part of his Card-Carrying Villain persona.
  • Genre Roulette: It's Steampunk, but beyond that it goes from high adventure to social commentary to comedy.
  • In the Style of: They did a cover of "I Think I Love You" in the style of a Disney Villain Song, complete with dramatic orchestral instrumentation and three bumbling henchmen providing backup.
  • Inherent in the System: A running theme in their work is that progress and prosperity are built on the suffering of the working class. "Blood, Sweat and Tears," "Another Cog in the Machine," and at the end, "Burn it Down" all exemplify this.
  • Large Ham: Mondelli's vocals. Shines through especially in tracks like The Death Of The Cog and Danger On The Dancefloor.
  • Merry in Minor Key:
    • Zig-zagged with "WEIRD," which is in D Minor. The verses tell about how John has been bullied and treated like an outcast for his weird behaviors, but overall, the message of the song is that John doesn't mind what other people think of him, because he enjoys being "weird," and he wouldn't have it any other way.
    • Double subverted with "The Girl and the Clockwork Dragon," which is in E Minor throughout. The song tells a somewhat grim fantasy story of a king who sends his knights to kill a dangerous mechanical dragon. However, the story has a happy ending. The final chorus sounds especially triumphant, but it's still in E Minor.
    • Zig-zagged with "Freak Show." While the whole song is in D Minor, the tone of the song varies wildly. The verses tell a rather sad story about a man with a metal jaw who has no choice but to join a circus freak show. The chorus plays this trope straight, in that the circus freaks sing about their group and how everyone is welcome to join them. Near the end of the song, the chorus is reprised in a much sadder tone by one of the freaks after the metal-jawed man dies of tetanus... but then, right after that, the chorus is repeated one last time in its normal, cheerful tone.
  • Mood Whiplash: Two strangely mournful songs, Time Machine and Letter To Michelle, are sandwiched between tracks that are more upbeat (The Inventor's Daughter, I Want Only You) or at least darkly humorous (The Depths Below).
  • Nightmarish Factory: There's one called "the Killing Floor" in "Burn it Down."
  • No OSHA Compliance: It's set before there was an OSHA. "Blood, Sweat and Tears" has a fatal industrial accident where someone's blown into open gears, and everyone goes right back to work immediately afterwards.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Death of the Cog is a very threatening indictment to a certain Mr Hamilton that the singer blames for causing the end of the age of steam and clockwork.
  • Shout-Out: A line in the chorus of Another Cog In The Machine ("all in all I'm just another cog in the machine") references Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall. And the title of I Don't Wanna Live On This Planet Anymore is a Futurama reference.
  • Sky Pirate: Savior Of The Skies and Sunset Val the Pirate Queen
  • Spoken Word in Music: The Inventor's Daughter segues into The Death Of The Cog with a spoken "report:"
    "We interrupt this broadcast to bring you breaking news. At approximately 2:05 PM this afternoon, an English clockmaker by the name of Hamilton revealed to the world a new kind of clock. This sick, twisted design displays the time digitally on a small backlit screen and is run entirely on electricity. Hamilton predicts that this new abomination is the way of the future, and believes that someday these hideous creations of his will be in every home in the world. It is with deep regret that we announce to you, dear listeners, that the cog is dead. We repeat: The Cog Is Dead."
  • Stay with the Aliens: I Don't Want To Live on This Planet Anymore!
  • Title Track: The first track on Steam Powered Stories.
  • Trapped in Another World: Sunset Val the Pirate Queen is about a girl taken from modern Earth to a world of airships.
  • Weird West:
    • "The Copper War" is a song about a small western mining town defending itself against an outlaw trying to take it over by building Steampunk mechanical steeds to ride against his posse.
    • "Old Merkwerkee" is about the residents of the titular Wild West town fighting a herd of robotic buffalo.