amanda palmer performs the popular hits of radiohead on her magical ukulele

here it is. the review. try not to be too excited.

first off, i feel a little unqualified to be doing a review on this album, only because i haven’t actually heard the original songs by radiohead that are being covered by amanda palmer (with her magical ukulele). this is very sad indeed, and will be rectified soon. but in the meantime…

i’ll dive right in with track one.

1. fake plastic trees

so i bought the album online (you can get it here) and put it on my iphone (the ONLY album i have on my iphone – i haven’t even synced the album with my ipod yet) so i could listen to it when i felt ready, and that moment came when i drove to costco on my lunch break to get gas (it’s 15 cents cheaper!). i started this song up and within five seconds i knew i was going to adore this album. i have to admit, i was skeptical. i’ve never considered myself an admirer of the ukulele, or anything hawaiian in general, but there’s something rather charming about it on this album, and in a strange way, it’s so amanda palmer, and so not amanda palmer. maybe that’s why i like it. this song really establishes the mood for almost all of the CD (“creep” pretty much being the exception – you’ll hear my thoughts on that in a bit), and it’s a mood that i’m not used to from amanda, or at least i didn’t think i was used to, but then i think of songs like “the perfect fit” and realize how silly it is to say that. anyway, the song is brilliant. it’s cute. it’s soothing. great start to the album.

2. high and dry

i’m wondering how much amanda connects to these songs. i’m getting this vibe that it’s a very introspective album, even though she’s singing someone else’s songs (but that makes total sense, because i learn a great deal about myself singing other people’s songs). i sense that she’s meditating on something. of course, that could be total bs, but i want to believe that we’re getting yet another side of amanda on this album. it’s a quality reflected in her voice, and it’s really sticking out to me on this song (which is a fab song, by the way).

amanda also mentioned in her blog that if you tweet about the album, you can get a free download of a special piano version of this song (don’t worry, if you aren’t twitter savvy you have the option of posting to facebook instead). check it out here.

i’m just opening the special track now (i downloaded it less than an hour ago), so here on my on-the-spot thoughts! the quality of the recording (audio quality only, folks) is not so wonderful, but it’s live. 🙂 i’m inclined to like this over the album version because she did it on piano (and amanda is the piano goddess – she draws the craziest things out of a piano) and it has this intimate room ambiance that’s gut-wrenching. i was spewing all that emotional stuff a couple of paragraphs ago – that’s amplified in this special track (so go get it!).

3. no surprises

love the intro to this song – it’s a very nostalgic, whimsical sound. and amanda’s voice is so soothing. speaking of which, her speaking voice is amazing. so deep and chocolaty – i could definitely be gay for amanda palmer’s voice (and that’s saying something, considering i’m usually put off by women and would much rather have men for friends and lovers). my voice is fairly low when i’m not overly excited, but amanda palmer’s voice is in a whole other zip code (but that’s ok, because i can still sing as low as she can). anyway, back to the song. she duets with herself, and it’s brilliant. i really need to stop gushing about this album, or you won’t take me seriously.

4. ideoteque

this is the first up tempo song on the album (notice i said up tempo, not up beat), and it has that hint of amanda palmer erraticism. wicked. she layered in some harmony too that is chilling. i’m pretty jazzed about this song. i think i’m going to leave it at that.

5. and 7. creep

now this is where things go south for me. it’s such a shame, because i was actually familiar with “creep” before APPTPHOROHMU and i think the song is gorgeous (has anyone seen the trailer for the new film about facebook/social networking? they did a great cover of the song with a child choir sound). i’m going to mash track 5 and 7 together because they are the same song, and i feel the same way about both of them, even though each live version (i just accidentally typed liver. oops.) has some variations.

bottom line: i worry about amanda’s voice. especially after the issue she had with vocal nodes. i listen to these tracks and i’m afraid she’s going to snap a vocal chord or something. it’s weird i would be so put off by it, because she belts the shite out of her voice all the time, but i was not digging it at all on “creep”. it’s also a huge break from the feel of the rest of the album, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure catches one off guard. in no way do i want to bash amanda palmer, but the poor thing sounds like she’s being strangled at points, and it’s not a sound i wish to listen to for extended periods of time. so i’ll just skip these tracks. which is actually not a bad idea, because …

6. exit music (for a film)

this is BY FAR my favorite song on the album, and it sits between the two butchered versions of “creep”, so it rectifies that situation a bit. i love this song so much, i’m going to post a video of it that was made last year at the sydney opera house (and the video is just as gorgeous as the song):

i can’t even give you a coherent review of the song because i’m so mind-f*cked by it. i don’t know that i’ll ever pinpoint exactly what it is about this song that i love so much. well, for one, there are strings (mmmmmm cello) and amanda does these things on the piano that could make even the hardest man cry (song just ended and i’ve pushed the back button on the player – impossible to listen to this song too much). i’m convinced i have to sing this song at some point. it’s just so RAW. which is what amanda does well. and then there’s the voice, that same voice i mentioned earlier – the tone of her voice is an instant hit with this song. this song is just downright epic. i’ll have to look up radiohead’s original.

funnily enough, the title is spot on – this song must be featured in a film. someone had better put it in a film, if they haven’t already. even better if they use amanda’s version.

so that’s my take on the album. i give her 7 out of 5 stars, even though i have to plug up my ears when both “creep” tracks come on – “exit music (for a film)” earns two of those stars on its own, easily. anticipating this album has re-energized my love for amanda palmer (and the dresden dolls) and i wouldn’t be surprised if her art influences me much more in the future.



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