Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - Theatre Is Evil --Introduction & Review--

There's no way I can write my usual review thingy here. This is Amanda Fucking Palmer. I can't just write the stuff I usually write. Amanda is unlike anyone I've ever listened to but at the same time she's like a composite of everyone I've ever listened to.

I discovered her thanks to an article on the Dresden Dolls in a Czech music magazine about seven years ago. I immediately knew the band would be my thing. A piano - drums duo playing something called Punk Cabaret. Fuck yeah! I saw the Dolls live in the spring of 2006. Unforgettable. I subsequently saw Amanda two more times as a solo artist and can't already wait for the upcoming Prague gig. I feel so blessed that at least one of my favourite artists tours Czech Republic so frequently and furthermore that it's someone who is always so energetic and simply amazing live. 

I've watched her evolve in the past seven years. I haven't been here since the very beginning of the Dresden Dolls, I even missed the first album and its touring era but still, seven years is not a short period of time. Amanda went from being on a major label and fronting a two-piece band to being a solo artist who managed to crowdsource over a million of dollars for her newest record. She worked her butt off in the meantime: two more Dresden Dolls albums, two Evelyn Evelyn albums (a collaboration with Jason Webley), two solo albums, a solo ukulele EP, a (recorded) tour with her husband. Endless blogging and tweeting - keeping in close contact with her fans - and since that proved more fruitful than promotion from the label she was signed to, she asked to be dropped from it. There's no other artist I've ever listened to that I'm happier for and more proud of than Amanda Palmer. All the media attention she gets these days is more than just well deserved, it's hard earned. 

Theatre Is Evil is unlike anything Amanda has done before, it's a big album. But at the same time it's a direct evolution from all her previous projects, especially her first solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer. WKAP was pretty much the first time Amanda's music was not mostly minimal. There were guitars and brass and other stuff. It wasn't just Amanda with her piano (and Brian Viglione's drums), it was bigger than that and I needed some time to adjust to this new sound. I mean I don't exclusively listen to piano and vocal only music, obviously - but Amanda had been about this punk minimalism for me up until the point WKAP was released. It was the familiar Amanda musical and lyrical language but it was a little less her and a little more...everyone else. And Theatre goes even further this way. But this time I welcome it. I get it. It doesn't surprise me at all. This is what Amanda Fucking Palmer is about these days. There's a band (The Grand Theft Orchestra), there are synths, the whole 80's feeling is here. But in the centre of it all there is this one badass woman, still doing her Punk Cabaret, even if a bit differently.

I think people who have never heard of AFP could listen to Theatre Is Evil and get a great introduction into this whole new strange but familiar world. 

I don't think there is one weak song on the album. Do It With a Rockstar will make you wanna it with a rockstar. The Bed Song will make you cry. Want It Back will make you wanna learn how to play bass. Melody Dean will make you wanna listen to My Sharona on repeat. Massechusetts Avenue will make you want to go to a pub. Bottomfeeder will make you marvel such a cool song could be written about someone fucking up their life. A Grand Theft Intermission will make you wish you were in a band. I could go on. There are 15 songs on the album......yet it never feels long. it never feels too much. It makes you wanna listen on and on and on.

Yeah. If you don't really know Amanda Palmer's music, go get Theatre is Evil. You can pay what you want for it. You can even get it for free, legally. Go. Worst thing that can happen is you won't like it.

But if you do like it, then maybe in seven years time you will go back to this blog in your mind and realise that's where it all began. 

That would be cool.

Want It Back video

The Bed Song lyrics

Exhibit A
We are friends in a sleeping bag splitting the heat
We have one filthy pillow to share and your lips are in my hair
Someone upstairs has a rat that we laughed at
And people are drinking
And singing Van Halen and Slayer on a ukulele tear

Exhibit B
Well, we found an apartment
It’s not much to look at
A futon on a floor
Torn-off desktop for a door
All the decor's made of milk crates and duct tape
And if we have sex
They can hear us through the floor
But we don’t do that anymore

And I lay there wondering, what is the matter?
Is this a matter of worse or of better?
You took the blanket, so I took the bedsheet
But I would have held you if you'd only

Let me

Exhibit C
Look how quaint
And how quiet and private
Our paychecks have bought us a condo in town
It's the nicest flat around
You picked a mattress and had it delivered
And I walked upstairs
And the sight of it made my heart pound
And I wrapped my arms around me

And I stood there wondering, what is the matter?
Is this a matter of worse or of better?
You walked right past me and straightened the covers
But I would still love you if you wanted a lover
And you said
All the money in the world
Won't buy a bed so big and wide
To guarantee that you won't accidentally touch me
In the night

Exhibit D
Now we're both mostly paralyzed
Don't know how long we've been lying here in fear
Too afraid to even feel
I find my glasses and you turn the light out
Roll off on your side
Like you've rolled away for years
Holding back those king-size tears

And I still don't ask you, what is the matter?
Is this a matter of worse or of better?
You take the heart failure
I'll take the cancer
I've long stopped wondering why you don't answer

Exhibit E
You can certainly see how fulfilling a life
From the cost and size of stone of our final resting home
We got some nice ones right under a cherry tree
You and me lying the only way we know
Side by side and still and cold

And I finally ask you, what was the matter?
Was it a matter of worse or of better?
You stretch your arms out and finally face me
You say I would have told you

If you'd only asked me
If you'd only asked me
If you'd only asked me

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