Sound Check: September 2008

 
 

Another musician who isn’t afraid of the darker side of
things, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, releases her solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, on Sept. 16.
The bisexual piano player/cabaret-esque vocalist has embraced being an
outsider, and her best songs seem to come out of that. Her lyrics are often
observations and stories about other people, and she poetically puts them into
song, her vocal dynamics aiding the narration.

The songs on Who
Killed Amanda Palmer
are still very much Dresden Dolls, which has to make fans happy.
Obviously Palmer is one half of the Dolls and is at the helm of the songwriting
(her band mate Brian plays drums in the band) so the solo songs are very
similar to previous Dolls albums. However, she does collaborate with some other
musicians, such as Zoe Keating on the song “Astronaut,” which adds something
new to the fold. The song is one of the best on the album, in which Palmer
sings passionately, “You are my love, the astronaut, flying in the face of
science.”

One thing Palmer does not do on the album is sing any
covers, which is a shame because she is one of those rare few who can take
songs by others and recreate them to be completely new and (dare I say it)
better than the originals. Her cover of Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow
You Into the Dark” is blissfully heartbreaking; unfortunately, you can only
hear it on her MySpace page for now.

Amanda Palmer

Death Cab for Cutie seems to have a talent for writing songs
gay ladies can appreciate. Singer/songwriter Catie Curtis also chose to cover
the indie band and recorded her cover of their single “Soul Meets Body” for her
new album, Sweet Life. It’s probably
the best song on her CD, yet it’s not reworked like Palmer’s cover. Instead,
it’s a bland country-fied version that serves as a pleasant interruption to her
predictable album full of other country-tinged folk.

Those who have enjoyed Curtis’ previous songs about love gone
wrong will probably enjoy Sweet Life,
but songs like “Lovely” come off as boring attempts at blues-inflicted tunes.
It all feels a little too familiar, but not in a good way. It’s much blander
than her past work such as “Magnolia
Street
.”

Gone is the magical day of “Radical” that brought something
interesting to the singer/songwriter table Curtis sits at. Perhaps in her new Sweet Life Curtis has lost her
inspiration for truly good songwriting.

NEWS AND NOTES

Kaki King will be
playing live on Bravo! Canada’s
new series, “The Berkeley Sessions.” The episode will air on Oct. 8.

Righteous Babe will release Ani DiFranco’s new album, Red
Letter Year
, on Sept. 30.

Out classical guitarist Sharon
Isbin
is a featured artist on iVideosongs.com. On the instructional music site, she shows
viewers how to play her interpretations of Isaias Savio’s "Batucada"
and Antonio Lauro’s "Waltz #3."

Joan Osbourne was
featured in a recent edition of the Sunday
New York Times,
where she gave a list of music she is “listening to now.”
On her playlist; The Ting Tings, Cat Power and Al Green. Her new album, Little Wild One, released on Sept. 9.

San Diego’s
MC Flow was featured
as Venus Zine’s reader of the week,
in which she discussed being queer and female in hip-hop.

Joan Osbourne (left) & MC Flow

Melissa Etheridge
is the only out lesbian to be featured among several female pop stars who
collaborated on the song “Stand Up To Cancer.” The single is available for
purchase on iTunes. Her holiday album, A
New Thought for Christmas,
releases on Sept. 30.

Hip-hop duo Yo Majesty have released the first song, “Break
Bread,” from their debut EP, Kryptonite
Pussy,
on Domino Records. Listen to the political track here.

 

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