Friday, February 29, 2008

SHOWCASE: THE DRESDEN DOLLS

"There is this thing keeping everyone's lungs and lips locked. It is called fear and its seeing a great renaissance."


The Dresden Dolls is an utterly fantastic 'Brechtian punk cabaret' act, known to their friends as Amanda Palmer (who has one of the best voices I've ever heard) and Brian Viglione. Their music is dark in nature, and alternately hilarious and vicious as it takes on society, sexuality and overblown singers' egos. The two hail from Boston, Massachusetts. They mix Palmer's amazing vocals with instruments such as the violin, the piano, the ukelele, and the guitar.

The Dresden Dolls - Sing (Sendspace link)
Album: Yes, Virginia...


Atypical for the Dolls in its inspiring nature, this is a powerful call to arms against fear and self-consciousness, urging everyone to, well, sing. This song gives me chills every time I listen to it as Palmer's voice swells, and the utter simplicity of its chorus allows for the genius writing. What artist, in this landscape, would urge us to "sing for the President, sing for the terrorists", just sing whatever is in your heart. My description will always make it seem sappy, but its just beautiful.

The Dresden Dolls - The Jeep Song (Sendspace link)
Album: The Dresden Dolls


One of their funniest offerings, this song has Palmer fixating on her ex-boyfriend's Jeep, and the similar ones everyone in Boston sees to drive. Even as she leaves him behind, she is haunted by the '96 Jeep Cherokee' that refuses to leave her alone. The witty lyrics are aided by a jaunty, slightly crazy music (including wonderful 'ba ba ba ba ba!' backing bits that slay me).

The Dresden Dolls - Backstabber (Sendspace link)
Album: Yes, Virginia...


Here, Palmer needles another singer, one who "only sleeps with girls who say they like [his] music" and has an annoying tendency to tell her how to write her own music. The anger here is a refreshing outlet, as she targets his ego, his appearances on 'popular magazines', and his hypocrisy in his advice to her. She doesn't hold back here, never reducing herself to shrieking, instead tearing him down word by word. Also note that the Dolls did a hilarious video for this song featuring them warring against Panic! at the Disco, guest starring as the subject of the song.

The Dresden Dolls - Mandy Goes to Med School (Sendspace link)
Album: Yes, Virginia...

The most madcap of my Doll favourites, this one bounces through hilarious and rather frightening lyrics related to the idea of Palmer becoming a med student. Take this lyric: "[I'm] giddy as a gangbanger with a set of sutures where his Magic Johnson ought to be..." She sings all of this with this dark excitement, kind of morbid joy as suggests "a nine month vacation and a two foot coffin". If there's a particular message here other than tokeep Amanda Palmer away from scalpels, I haven't uncovered it, but I love listening to the song anyway.

The Dresden Dolls - Coin-Operated Boy (Sendspace link)
Album: The Dresden Dolls


A fantastic song about the nature of loneliness and desperation, the Dolls spin a great tale of a girl who finds herself fascinated with her new plastic boyfriend, claiming that she "will never cry at night again". There are some interesting bits, such as when she seems to be caught in a loop, suggesting that in her state of loneliness she's become somewhat robotic herself. She pleads with a real-life person to pursue her despite her rejections, despite her seeming lack of reciprocated feelings, merely because she doesn't trust in the idea of love. This is a character study of a damaged, broken girl, and it fascinates, amuses and ultimately breaks your heart.


Of course, a post about the Dolls would be sadly remiss without mentioning Amanda Palmer's upcoming solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, due out sometime this Spring. I'd have to say, of all the albums due out in 2008, it's my most-anticipated album for the year. And what I've heard from it is fantastic, including the following song, which I'm desperately hoping is the lead single as it's just that good...

Amanda Palmer - I Will Follow You Into the Dark (Sendspace link)
Album: Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

The best preview of Who Killed is the gorgeous "Ampersand", but as I've already offered that in the Newcomers post, her studio-recorded cover of Death Cab For Cutie's "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" fits nicely into this spot. The original is probably one of my all-time favourites, with sweet lyrics of devotion that I can't help but love, and Palmer does a great job with it. It's low, voice on the edge of breaking, piano-driven and heart-stirring. Doesn't quite match the raw feeling of the original, but damn close.

Also Check Out:
The Dresden Dolls - Modern Moonlight
The Dresden Dolls - Sex Changes
The Dresden Dolls - Missed Me

If you're impressed by what you've heard here, look into purchasing some Dresden Dolls albums.

8 comments:

Kara said...

Thanks B-Bot!

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