Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele
Amanda Palmer is a polarizing artist. Her piano-driven goth-cabaret, as half of the Dresden Dolls and as a solo artist, has created a legion of rabid fans. But if you don’t love her music, chances are you will hate it with a fervor that is usually reserved for politicians. She also has a penchant for pissing people off. She wrote a song to her now former record company Roadrunner Records asking to be dropped. That is why her solo EP is the epitome of love/hate. Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele is a seven-cover-song EP that supplants Palmer’s piano with the four-stringed instrument that Tiny Tim made famous, but she doesn’t forget about the ivory keys all together.
Palmer starts off with a stunningly beautiful rendition of “Fake Plastic Trees” followed by another sparse but gorgeous “High and Dry.” She reintroduces her piano and keeps the mood melancholy on “No Surprises.”
The two highlights start with “Exit Music (For a Film)” where Palmer can take a brilliant song and using just her voice and the piano, as she ditches the uke again, make it even more brooding and completely hers without sacrificing what makes it so fantastic. “Idioteque” combines the piano (both toy and regular), uke with tribal drums, and several of her voices all combining to make a cover that might actually be better than the original.
Then come the live tracks, which is where I pole vault from the “love” side of the fence to the “hate” side. “Creep,” or as she puts it, “Hungover at Soundcheck in Berlin,” is where her voice starts grating on me. She is terribly out of tune and sounds like a cat getting strangled when she attempts the high notes that Thom Yorke nails. I’ve heard better singing in the shower (not that I’m listening). There is also another version that is live in Prague, which is actually worse because she seems to be trying to yell as opposed to actually hitting notes. She butchers it worse than any karaoke version I’ve ever heard.
Whether it’s the choice of instrument, choice of songs, choice of artist (for the covers), or just the fact that it’s Amanda Palmer, there is bound to be something here that you’ll love and something that will leave you seething. Regardless, this is a collection that needs to be heard. Then you can decide for yourself which side of the line you are on… if you are on a side at all.
Amanda Palmer: www.amandapalmer.net