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BrainWashed.com - March, 2003

The Dresden Dolls, "A is for Accident"

by Jon Whitney

I first met Amanda Palmer eight years ago. After seeing her first perform at piano in her parents house with a small crowd gathered around, I knew she could be a star. After seeing the Dolls perform just over a week ago, I was completely wrong. Amanda Palmer is beyond potential star, she is the next rock and roll savior. It didn't come without the addition of a fantastic drummer she found in Brian Viglione. After years of seeing Palmer play solo, the change is completely evident as the crowds are now staggering (a sold out capacity of Middle East downstairs is 575 people and their show was pretty damned close), many of which are singing along and rolling in the joy. A full-length record is now in its final stages before release, but until then, this CD is a perfect way to catch up on the best of the last couple years. It consists of 11 popular crowd favorites, recorded in concert venues both large and small, rehearsal spaces, and radio station studios. Palmer doesn't simply play the piano, she makes it her bitch, and Viglione's drum work is tactfully refined and carefully reserved, playing off Palmer's tight-stopping and sassy cues which change their mind like the most stereotypical woman would demand you to allow. The songs are always entertaining, far beyond expectation in every way, both in their off-kilter rhythmic motives and peculiar subject matter, owing as much to theatrical cabaret-type tunes as to the Pink Dots. Sure, she sings about love, but I'm sure these songs are all purely fiction from the mind of a dreamer who sleeps with a notepad by the bed. "Bank of Boston Beauty Queen" is an autobiographical reflection on growing up a goth teen, "Christopher Lydon" is the story of Palmer's obsession with a former local NPR celebrity, and the deep, direct power of "Will," with strings added is sensationally appetite-wetting for the full-length record (especially with the lyric, "I don't mind if you read while I'm coming!"). As this disc collects recordings from a number of sources, the sound is, expectedly inconsistent, but fear not, this will be a much sought after item in the years to come.