Tuesday, September 18, 2012

amanda palmer theatre is evil

the new amanda palmer album came out recently, and after being barraged by her tweets and retweets, i picked it up. (to be fair, i follow her, and if i don't want to deal with the volume of tweets that she does i should unfollow instead of complaining.)  i've been a fan of her music since the dresden dolls, and have a bunch of her cover stuff as well.  i don't know what it is, but i just enjoy the music that she does.  sometimes piano driven, sometimes a more basic rock, but it's just good music.

i'm not going to review songs all the songs or anything like that, but i did want to hit on a few tracks.
  • the killing type was is the first to really jump out at me.  i saw the video and it didn't do too much for me, but with the headphones on it just really stood out.  they lyrics are this interesting piece about not being able/willing to kill but having those sort of urges, carrying a knife, getting angry but knowing you couldn't/wouldn't do it.
  • do it with a rock star - "do you want to see all my cavities."  that's a damn fine line, great double entendre
  • want it back - really reminds me off dresden dolls stuff, in a good way.  but also has this nice, 80's synth feel to it.
  • melody dean - man, this sounds so much like 'my sharona' that i have to imagine that it's intentional.  okay, she even says my sharona at one point in the song.  having said that, it's awesome.  this song rocks, will get you moving.  the drum break down is effing awesome.
  • berlin - this really has that old melodramatic dresden dolls feel to it.  the song builds along what seems like a pretty simple piano riff, but mixed in with what sounds like a old striptease.  or, i guess a cabaret.
Overall, the album is a departure from the dresden dolls, which is fine, because it's not the same band.  obviously, when you have a band like the dolls that is only two people, and now the front person is in another band, there will be a lot of shared sound.  it's unmistakably amanda palmer.  i enjoyed the whole album.  obviously, some songs will speak out more to you than me.  the bed song is definitely one that will rip your heart out, and as exhibited by the amount of tweets palmer gets about it, people love it.  (i'm not sure why i didn't write about that one.)  i also really like the amount of the synth sound on it, which i am hearing & enjoying in a lot of current stuff.

On a related note, palmer has created a minor (?) controversy by asking for volunteer musicians to play at her shows as part of the grand theft orchestra (here's a good summary post).  she's asked for essentially semi-pros that would be willing to play, and would get to hang out with the rest of the band, get free beer/food in the green room.  she has been taken to task for this because some people feel that she should pay those musicians.  she is devaluing what musicians do because she's not hiring actual musicians, or paying musicians at the scale they might receive.  there is also a devaluing of live music because everyone should get paid for what they do.  i think that's most of the argument.  now, some of it has also been a bit nasty toward her personally, but that's dismissible for the argument.  if you're going to attack a person rather than their argument, well, you lose.  palmer's argument back is that the people are volunteering.  they're choosing to do this, they're having a good time, and they're getting a form of payment.

to be honest, i think i see both sides.  i've always been surprised when i talk to friends in bands that play for free.  i get it if you're getting some exposure from a really big touring act, but even then, shouldn't you see a little bit of the door?  also, it seems like some bands may also get the rep of being willing to play for free, and so venues/bars will put them on the bill all the time or frequently because they know they can get them for free.  that seems pretty bad, and i wouldn't want to be in that position.  i mean, i'm not going to do a painting at your house for free.

then again, when i was playing music regularly, i was doing it for free, as a volunteer.   sure, i was playing at church, and so it had some other meaning attached to it for me.  but, deep down, i did it because i wanted to play and provide a service.  if people want to get on stage, help out another musician, even one that is making pretty good money, and play for free/beer & high fives, that's fine with me.  i probably lean a little more this way in this particular argument about amanda palmer.  i still wouldn't play regularly as a band/in a club/in concert for free.


Jay Parks said...

Update - AFP and GTO have decided to pay the volunteers at future shows, and retroactively for the earlier gigs. It's been an interesting debate.

edluv said...

good to know. adam and i had a good discussion about it after pub quiz.