Review: Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre is Evil

I’m not going to lie to you. I have heaps of things that are currently in my review queue, but a part of me feels like if I do not get this out I will explode. You know that feeling when you gorge in November on Turkey and other various carb-loaded goods (To-furkey for all y’all vegans) and sit down on a recliner and just want someone to rub your tummy? Yeah… Theatre is Evil is my motherfucking yams*, y’all.

 

Earlier this year, Amanda Palmer launched a Kickstarter to produce her latest album. It made so many different news feeds, I could link to it, but I like to pretend that many of the new stations don’t exists… Anyways… In exchange for helping there were several tiers of gifts and packages that you could buy into. Sadly, since I was planning to move (and have since moved and have no steady paycheck) I could only invest a small amount to the cause.

 

Last night I received my code for the Deluxe Digital Download. I had already turned off my computer for the night and was inching my way to my bedroom when I checked my phone and found the email. I immediately rushed to my computer to turn it back on and downloaded it with the impatience of a two year old in a room full of brightly wrapped presents.

 

Instead of sitting in bed, wishing that I could just demand my body to sleep, I went through all of the computer-centric content (art and videos) and loaded the album unto my phone so I could listen to it on the way to my temp gig in the morning.

 

This morning, I pressed play and started the drive to work. As it will be difficult to keep my train of thought, I figured that since I did a Record Club review of the Dresden Dolls album “Yes Virginia…” I would do a special “Theatre is Evil” review.

 

Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre is Evil

 

Preconceptions:

 

Well, I have been getting non stop kickstarter updates from Amanda in regards to the progress of the tour and art and boobies and stuff so I have been very excited about the release of the full album. I had the opportunity to watch the music video for “Want It Back” and hoped that the album would kick my metaphorical dick off.

 

Mood:

 

Introspective and kind of meh.

 

After Listening:

 

My metaphorical dick has been kicked. The album is incredibly well produced and thought out. There were surprises in songs when I thought I was going to be hearing something and heard something else.

 

I’m going to pull from my old review of earlier Palmer werks (because I’m lazy and admittedly a little drunk [This is a double-edged sword as I now want to make out with Amanda Palmer {.. again…}]) “Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer tends to be a very polarizing force when you are first being exposed to the tracks. Regardless of how you feel about the delivery of the words, Palmer is a wordsmith. She is a smith of words. Her piano is her anvil.”

 

As much as I miss Viglione on this album, I know that this is a completely different beast from the Dresden Dolls. If you are a nerd (like I am), think of it as “Amanda Palmer’s Monster Manual”. The addition of the Grand Theft Orchestra players Jherek Bischoff, Chad Raines, and Michael McQuilken is absolutely lovely. Oh! And when I heard the last name “Raines” I assumed that the invisible man procreated. Sorry darlin’. I bet you get that a lot. But… you’re Australian and I totally have a crazy girl boner for that fucking continent (Fuck… I’m sorry, Mom and Dad. I should have warned you earlier to not read this.)

 

Enough! Review time!

 

Favorite Tracks:

 

Want It Back – EVERY time I hear this song I assume that I’m about to hear song crazy techno remix of an already remixed J-Pop song, then it breaks to the piano and Amanda and grows to a song that (to me) is vaguely reminiscent at points of early R.E.M. and, for some strange reason, some of her syllabic extensions remind me of Tears for Fears and A-Ha.

 

Grown Man Cry – This song made me both laugh and realize that I have similar tendencies as “those girls” that is being referred to.

 

A Grand Theft Intermission – Honestly, the initial riff had me thinking of the Reigning Monarchs surf punk instrumentals. I loves me some Reigning Monarch. The intermission, however, felt like a matador and an operatic diva were battling to the death over a single rose. It is amazing the amount of imagery you can get from instrumentals.

 

The Bed Song – I should have actually heard this many months ago. My friend (Elfie) sent this to me, saying “OH EM GEE ALI LISTEN! DIS IS Y I CHIP IN TO MANDAPAHMR KICKSTARDER” (yes, I hear my friends as LOLCats, which as I think about it is probably an enormous insult.Elfie/Jackie is one of the most brilliant people I know). I, of course, went “that’s awesome” and didn’t listen (because I’m an asshole and forget to do things and was responding from my phone at work and didn’t have my headset). Last night, I listened to this song and cried for two hours. I didn’t mean to keep track of the time. I simply sent a message to a friend who I worried was going to end up this way including the lyrics and a youtube clip, so I have a time stamp from the moment I started panicking and crying. That is not a bad review in the least. I recognize that the experiences listed in the song are those that I do not want to experience, however, the song painted a picture so real it crippled me. THAT IS FUCKING ART, YO!

 

(OH! BTW!!!!! If someone can get me a copy of the Bed Song Book [as offered in the Kickstarter package], I will get an Amanda Palmer lyric tattooed in a half circle DIRECTLY under my breast if you send it to me [AND I WILL Instagram the shit out of it too]. Lyric is negotiable. I do get final say as it’s my flesh, but it will be an AFP lyric.)

 

Least Favorite Tracks:

 

If I were to pick something, it would be Smile (Pictures or It Didn’t Happen). While it is my least favorite of the moment, I am sure that listening to it over and over again it will endear itself to me. Amanda’s voice has a tendency of doing that. Her diction is crisp and her phrasing is deliberate.

 

Overall (1-5 stars): 5

 

Amanda Palmer and Kickstarter took my $5 and gave me an emotional rollercoaster that I am eager to ride over and over and over again.

 

OH! And because I couldn’t donate much but got the $5 Deluxe Digital Download version, I still got a bunch of art and videos and B-Sides, so neener-neener.

 

* I love yams like I love my mom

Nerdgasmatron! Tricorders, Ewoks and Prometheus. Oh my!

Mike: Coming Soon – The World Gets One Step Closer To a Working Tricorder http://gizmodo.com/5897395/the-world-gets-one-step-closer-to-a-working-tricorder

Seth: Nice try “tech geek”. Dilithium crystals are used in warp cores, not diagnostic equipment. *hits inhaler*

Josh: This has been out for years.
20120406-134053.jpg

Mike: Here’s some nerdgasm for you… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trilithium
List of fictional elements, materials, isotopes and atomic particles

Josh: I thought adamantium was an element for a good ten years.

Marissa: I won’t care about any of this until I can either have a real live Ewok butler whom I’ll name Rolf and who will only respond to everything with Yub Yub, or I can take light saber lessons and get certified, even if I have to wait 3 months for my purple light saber

Seth: Have you ever considered what Ewoks must smell like?

Mike: Or that they eat human flesh?

Seth: Which makes them even gassier.

Marissa: Can’t be worse than what a bird must smell like. I’ll just demand that Rolf bathe at least twice a week. I mean he’ll be an indoor ewok, so I really feel like the smell won’t be terrible.
Rolf won’t eat human flesh… or maybe I’ll make a deal a local hospital. You guys are really overthinking this.

Josh: You’re the one with a cadaver plan already worked out.

Seth: Have fun changing Ewok diapers full of used people.

Marissa: Everyone should have a cadaver planned worked out! If you don’t already, I don’t want you on my zombie survival team

Mike: A pet is a responsibility lady, it’s possible you’re underthinking it.

Marissa: Trust me, I understand the responsibility. That knowledge is the only reason I haven’t relieved a local shelter of some awesome animal yet. But by the time Ewoks are here, hopefully I’ll be in a more financially suitable position. I might even get two..they’re social creatures and I think we all know what happens when you separate one from another.
Ewoks are totally litterbox trainable…I’ll just have a Port-A-Box outside

Seth: Make sure your Ewok groomer clips around the tail.

Mike: Are you even zoned for ewoks? Do you know your town ordinances?

Seth: Come to think of it, if Ridley Scott replaced the xenomorphs with Ewoks I would definitely pay to see Prometheus in 3d.

Ali: THERE IS SO MUCH NERD HAPPENING RIGHT NOW I AM TOO EXCITED TO EVEN WORK*!!


*I love excuses

When advertisements fail and generalization are hysterical… There is… Record Club

Admittedly, this is making light of the dark, but who doesn’t have a morbid sense of humor?

20120223-151841.jpg

Josh: This is one of the sh!ttiest ads I’ve ever seen. WTF?

Paul: Haha.
Obituaries, February 23, 2012
FATHER, 1945-2012
FATHER was a really wonderful person. FATHER was well liked in his community. FATHER touched so many lives and worked very hard at the GENERIC FOOD PRODUCTS FACTORY, owned by OWNER BOSS. OWNER BOSS remarked upon hearing of FATHER’S passing, “FATHER was very proficient at making the GENERIC FOOD PRODUCTS.” When he retired, FATHER spent his days playing PARLOR GAMES and LEISURE SPORTS, which he enjoyed greatly. FATHER is survived by MOTHER, DAUGHTER, SON, DAUGHTER, DAUGHTER and BROWN DOG. Services will be held at FUNERAL HOME.

Marissa: Hahahahahahhahah
by MOTHER, DAUGHTER, SON, DAUGHTER and DAUGHTER are all SAD. BROWN DOG is still looking for his bone. He doesn’t know it was buried with FATHER

Paul: GRUMPY GRUDGE HOLDING NEIGHBOR could not care less about FATHER’S death

Seth: Is this guy related to LOCAL MAN who is always in the news?

Marissa: Oh man, don’t talk about LOCAL MAN…him and FATHER did NOT get along at all. Father once tried to sell MOTORIZED SNOW REMOVAL EQUIPMENT to LOCAL MAN and LOCAL MAN never used PAPER MONEY to compensate. It was a mess

Paul: Yes, which led to ATTEMPTED HOMICIDE with SHOVEL

Seth: Fix’d
Yes, which led to CRIME with WEAPON

Spacey Metal. (aka Paul Won Record Club For The Day)

I promise you guys I will write an ACTUAL blog post soon, but I had to share this because it is just so awesome.

Today, the Record Club is reviewing Clutch – Robot Hive/Exodus. Due to the backlog of Season One, the reviews will not post until 8/22. Yes, I’ve done the math and set up scheduled posts for cranialspasm.com/recordclub … You know what? I don’t need to defend myself. I’m neurotic, but at least I make use of it in a productive way!

Anyways, after the reviewing we occasionally have discussions. I decided to share this one because it was so amazing I am still laughing about it.

Seth: I’m listening to Blast Tyrant now. I like it less than Robot Hive but it’s still good.
Mike: Basically they get more rock and jam oriented with age, more spacey metal with their young stuff. The consistency is lyrically based.
Paul: “Spacey Metal”
20120216-093202.jpg
Marissa: Ok….this picture is clearly the reason I got up today
Ali: Things like this that make some sports talk okay on occasion.
DON’T YOU DARE TALK SPORTS NOW! THIS IS NOT THE OCCASION FOR SPORTS!

Work Emails: Taxidermy & Self Oppression

Marissa: Oh and I was hanging out at pharmacies before listening to this album, and also have contemplated collecting taxidermy, but I was thinking more of starting with this piece, not owls….because owls always look like they’re watching me. I like my dead animals stuffed to look alive to look as dormant as possible:

20120126-095634.jpg

Marissa: Actually, I think I’ve really found the one that I want. This would make the mantle on any fireplace better…I also want to make them tiny Native American headdresses and garb because I like to be as offensive as possible to new guests.

20120126-095733.jpg

Marissa: In my mind, the inspiration for this piece came from the owners’ constant viewing of Pochahontas.

20120126-095827.jpg
Seth: And the first was from Aladdin?
BTW, be sure your Google is set for strict safe search before you look for Disney tigers. It’s a sick world out there.

20120126-095905.jpg

Seth: As the Native American in the RC, let me thank you for the blankets.

Ali: Seth, HALF of you is Native American. The other half of you OPPRESSED Native Americans.
… Your body must constantly be at war with itself.

Seth: My oppressor half managed to oppress the Possamaquoddy and Irish fractions equally.

Marissa: But the good news is that his immune system is only HALF as susceptible to the pox

Seth: But between that and the potato blight…

RC: Florence + the Machine – Lungs

 

Record Club: Florence + the Machine – Lungs

 

Preconceptions:

I’ve heard a few of their songs before.

 

Tracks:

Dog Days Are Over – It is continual proof that I enjoy repetitive hand clapping in songs.

Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) – It sounds like Imogen Heap, Annie Lenox and a less-Bjorky Bjork got together to sing over a Laurie Anderson experiment.

I’m Not Calling You a Liar – Did Missy Higgins and Ingrid Michaelson have a baby?

Howl – The synth in the background makes me long for a shiny satin jacket and the caterwauling ofFlorence reminds me that Fiona Apple’s monthly sandwich should be administered soon. .

Kiss With a Fist – Kimya Dawson and Melanie join the Runaways! Come one, come all!

Girl With One Eye – Oh how I wish Imelda May was singing this. The lazy rockabilly strumming behind it would be amazing with that Irish lasses voice instead of Beaker from the Muppet show articulating.

Drumming Song – Not enough drumming. False advertising.

Between Two Lungs – A beginner tap class favorite! I do dig the heartbeat feel to the percussion until it starts to introduce the tambourine. That is what we in the medical field would call “atrial flutter/fibrillation”. GRAB THE PADDLES!

Cosmic Love – If it hasn’t been on a CW show yet… It’s going to be.

My Boy Builds Coffins – It has a Natalie Merchant feel if she was being directed by Colin Hay (Men at Work).

Hurricane Drink – This sounds like a soundtrack song for an early 90s Sarah Jessica Parker quirky romantic comedy or a mid 90s song for a Sarah Michelle Gellar film. I think that single three named Sarahs have decided that this is their anthem. Actually, as I listen to the lyrics and it’s talking about “drinking yourself to death”… Wow. I misshot that one.

Blinding – Opening a song with a bunch of guitar plucking makes me really nervous. I guess it’s an odd sense of dread brought upon but the simple plucking of string instruments in horror movies that make me want to immediately attack someone that is approaching me. That is why there must not be a harp if I am in a wedding. It’s in my bridesmaid rider. 

You’ve Got The Love – A little Adele “Right As Rain” bounce to the opener. Honestly? I’m tired of her voice now. I need to stop this and then try to listen to this song after I’ve had a bit of a breather.

 

After Listening:

I’ve pretty much decided that Florence has such a distinctive voice I initially didn’t know if she’d be anything without the Machine. After the album I think she sounds like the singer from the Cranberries collaborating with Polyphonic Spree. Thank all that is holy that the songs aren’t the length of the PS albums. It is very reminiscent of all of these squeaky “faux-feminist” artists now – Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson, Sarah Bareilles, Tori Amos, Missy Higgins, the chick from A Fine Frenzy, Jewel… I cannot believe that this does it for me. I think it might be the hidden angry, bitter, jaded chick deep inside of me that is cynical but also carries this hope that there is someone on a white horse ready to fight dragons… I hate that b***h.

 

I think the saddest part is that I feel cheap for making fun of this when I completely dig most of the harmonies and melodies…

 

Favorite track/tracks:

Dog Days Are Over

Kiss With a Fist

 

Least favorite track/tracks:

Girl With One Eye – I really would love this if it was covered by someone else. Like me.

 

Overall (1-5 stars):   4

 

To read more opinions on albums like these, please visit listenatwork.wordpress.com

 

 

The Record Club Reviews Are LIVE!

Towards the end of last year I had started posting reviews about albums. I was incredibly excited and honored to have been selected as the first person not working for the same company as the people of the Record Club to join in on their weekly album reviews.

What is Record Club?

Every Tuesday and Thursday, we are assigned an album to listen to in its entirety. When we’re done, we then share our opinions with the rest of the group.

Due to the customizing issues with blogging site permissions, I offered to host the blog here! So, if you like reading about albums and are interested in listening to them and sending over comments, please feel free to visit cranialspasm.com/recordclub

 

The Record Club is a Bunch of Broken Geniuses.

As much fun as the Record Club is when I am at work, they add me into the emails during my vacation time as well.

I have NO IDEA what brought this conversation about, but it made me laugh so I’m sharing it with you.

Seth: I lost count of the times I yelled “Fck YOU old man!” in high school.
Josh: You actually said “old man”? I thought that was just in movies.
Seth: We watched a lot of movies in the late 80s. They raised us. Don’t stand there in your He-Man panties and judge me, chief. We called people ‘chief” and “buddy” in the 80s too.
Josh: It’s 2012, Brogan. Get with the times.
Paul: Whatever, Brahman
Josh: Stay out of this, Senator Bro McCarthy.
Seth: That was a lame one, Bronan the Brobarian.
Josh: Brojecting…
Paul:

Josh: I can’t beat that.

RC: The Kinks – Give the People What They Want

 

Record Club: The Kinks – Give the People What They Want

 

Preconceptions:

I probably should be listening to these albums, right? They did Lola? Although, I actually enjoy the Weird Al version a little better, what with it being about a wrinkled green teacher of jedi mastery. I think I confuse them with the band that sings “The Village Green Preservation Society”… No wait… That is them.

 

After Listening:

I was moderately surprised at how fun the songs were. Granted, the only two songs I knew of theirs were pretty yawny. I like them anyways. Oh goodness they sound perfectly British in “Art Lover”. PERFECTLY! Also… “Flasher in a raincoat” and “dirty old man” are some possible subtitles for my Jon Waters biography.

 

Favorite track/tracks:

Around the Dial – Not  a super big fan of the radio dial switching in the beginning and the chorus sounds like something I have heard before either being sung by the Violent Femmes or Flaming Lips. Still, it has a 80s High School movie montage feel to it. If I were an idiot, I would make a fan vid of it for that Christian Slater classic Pump Up The Volume. I always wanted to be Samantha Mathis… until Little Women (YES. I even wanted to be her in Super Mario Bros).

Destroyer – It’s got a “Hello… I love you won’t you tell me your name” kind of feel that I super dig.  

 

Least favorite track/tracks:

Killer’s Eyes – I think I stopped paying attention to this song as it was playing. But it kind of made me think about how Samantha Mathis was in American Psycho.

Back to Front – “Hey, I’m the writer of this song. I’m going to rhyme a bunch of things at a slow pace to make this sound like a kids playground tease and then kill you with some sweet guitar licks.” ß In my brain, this dude has a nerd lisp.

 

 

Overall (1-5 stars):  4.5

 

Extra Credit: Watch Ferngully… Samantha Mathis.

 

To read more opinions on albums like these, please visit listenatwork.wordpress.com

 

 

 

RC: Noisettes – Wild Young Hearts

 

Record Club: Noisettes – Wild Young Hearts

 

Preconceptions:

Well… This was one of my picks, actually. It’s amazing. I actually found this band because they did a cover of the Killers – When You Were Young for Liquid Lounge. I then figured out that the woman’s voice was like Adele, Duffy, and Eartha Kitt were spliced together. Also? She has hair that is weird and I preliminary judge an album like it’s art. GARY OLDMAN DRACULA hair on the front cover? Um… Hello? Awesome.

 

I’m probably going to get some teasing for my ability to enjoy dance beats with ridiculous cowbell breaks, but frankly… I’ve known Seth long enough to know that he knows I’m a bit… off. Marissa was probably bouncing along to the music anyways.

 

I love music. Anything I can get my hands on (typically).

 

After Listening:

I don’t actually listen to all of this CD on a regular basis. I have a few go to songs when I decide it’s Noisettes time. I forgot how much I really enjoy this album in its entirety.

 

Favorite track/tracks:

Saturday Night – Any song that within 20 seconds uses the word “Shenanigans” is always right in my book.

Atticus – It sounds like a folky children’s song, but the lyrics are incredibly dark.

 

Least favorite track/tracks:

CHECK YO SELF!

 

Overall (1-5 stars):  5! BOOSH!

 

To read more opinions on albums like these, please visit listenatwork.wordpress.com