Monday, October 26, 2009

Playlist: The Dresden Dolls


[Playlist is an attempt to distill my favorite artists to 80-minute compilations. If someone asked me to burn them a mix of the bands featured here, I would give them this collection. This week, Picasso Blue will be running Halloween-centric playlists, starting today with The Dresden Dolls.]

Despite having only two studio albums to their credit, the self-described "punk rock cabaret" duo Dresden Dolls (pianist/lead singer Amanda Palmer and drummer/guitarist/back-up vocalist Brian Viglione) has generated tons of odds 'n' ends in their years together. Though the group is currently on hiatus (and pursuing bands that basically fulfill the exact same sonic style. Just sayin'), I'm hoping they reunite soon. As much as I love their self-titled record, I love them live even more. I've seen the band in concert five times, and each set was different, with the group pulling out rarities, covers, performance pieces, and the occasional crowd interaction trick each time. To that end, I've tossed in a couple of covers and live takes, in addition to choice cuts from The Dresden Dolls and Yes, Virginia....

In truth, this playlist was both a joy and a pain to make. See, the Dolls have a host of non-album tracks I tried to cram in. Their output has also been a little spotty, as Yes, Virginia... and its outtakes companion No, Virginia... have plenty of glaring weak spots. Palmer's lyrics occupy a hyperspecific, personal level, and her word choices sometimes go too crass for my taste. But when she's on, like on the epic tracks "Half Jack" and "Delilah," Palmer is an electrifying force.

There's still plenty of stuff I wanted to include, as I had to cut some picks from the live album A is for Accident after I realized I had accidentally left off "Delilah." And the band's cover of PJ Harvey's "Rid of Me" is so kickass that I added and subtracted it from this list several times. Finally, the band's biggest hit, "Coin-Operated Boy," got cut because, honestly, I'm sick of that song. But here's what I was able to fit in: 16 songs, some original and some not, that comprise the Dolls' patented blend gothic emotion, rock 'n' roll abandon, and Rocky Horror Picture Show theatrics.

[EDIT: So, I was listening to my Dresden Dolls discography over the weekend and realized I left off two crucial cuts. So, I'm removing the U2 cover in favor of "Bad Habit" and "Sorry Bunch."]

How Fast This Plane Can Go
1. "Good Day," The Dresden Dolls
2. "Girl Anarchonism," The Dresden Dolls [Same two-hit combo as the original album. You just don't fuck with certain things.]
3. "Dirty Business," Yes, Virginia...
4. "Half Jack," The Dresden Dolls
5. "A Night at the Roses," "Good Day" seven-inch [One of my favorite Dolls tunes. It's a shame it was relegated as a download-only bonus track for the rarities comp.]
6. "The Jeep Song," The Dresden Dolls
7. "Shores of California," Yes, Virginia...
8. "Pretty in Pink," High School Reunion - A Tribute to Those Great 80's Films! [Psychedlic Furs comp. Also available on No, Virginia...]
9. "Backstabber," Yes, Virginia...
10. "Modern Moonlight," Yes, Virginia...
11. "Dear Jenny," No, Virginia...
12. "Bad Habbit," The Dresden Dolls
13. "Sorry Bunch," No, Virginia...
14. "Delilah," Yes, Virginia...
15. "Ballad of a Teenage Queen," All Aboard: A Tribute To Johnny Cash [Johnny Cash cover with Franz Nicolay]
16. "Truce," The Dresden Dolls
17. "Such Great Heights," live bootleg [I spent about a year listening to this song every night before going to bed. It was also the sountrack to my first kiss with my girlfriend. So, thanks, Amanda.]

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