The duo known as the Dresden Dolls are a rock band formed in 2001 and are known for their "cabaret punk" music and aesthetic. They are best known for their songs Coin Operated Boy, Girl Anachronism, and Sing. Though the band's popularity is high in Europe and Australia, the Boston-based Dresden Dolls still pack quite a loyal following in their home country of the USA. Attracted by the Dolls' showmanship and attitude, the band is picking up quite a crowd of fans and may break out into the mainstream. Considering the fact that they are performing in 2006's Lollapalooza, that time may be sooner rather than later. They are, however, still extraordinarily independent, concocting their own genre of brechtian cabaret punk.
Hearing them for the first time, it's odd to think that such a full sound comes from a two person band, but between Amanda Palmer's vocals and piano and Brian Viglione's drums, there's little room for more than that (though the CD versions of their songs will often have an occasional stray instrument). While Brian may occasionally pick up a guitar, the duo stick to their instruments and watching them in action you can tell that this is their thing. The bandmates know their instruments and each other very well. Though they've only been acquainted with each other since a Halloween party in 2000, they sound like they've been together as a band for much longer and their connection to each other is readily apparent. The sound itself ranges from song to song and while many are loud and angry, there are also a number mournful and slow pieces. All are quite artful and brim with attitude. The lyrics match the music and are quite frank, though often sarcastic, and range from social commentary, such as "Shores of California," which talks about the paradox of male and female indoctrinated approaches to sex and relationships, to the tongue in cheek humor of "Christopher Lydon," a traditional love lament song turned into a song about an NPR broadcaster stalker. Many, though, deal with dysphoria with aspects of the world whether it's "Girl Anachronism" and its feeling of being born into the wrong time or "the Perfect Fit" and its vision of fallen perfection. Loneliness and isolation are major themes in many of their works.
Their live show is a key note in really getting to experience the band. They are showmen at heart, and their expressions on stage are intense. They get into the cabaret feel and, to a point, go back to Amanda's street performing days as a living statue (known as the 8-foot Bride), dressing up in an interesting mesh of looks. Both white-faced, Brian in bowler hat and tie (though his bottom half is often shorts and fishnets) and Amanda with messy hair barely held back by pins, sporting her iconic dark dress marked with an "A" and bottomed by black and white stripped socks, the pair have a very fresh look. The cabaret theme continues with their use of non-standard openers. Though they often tour with another band, they usually have other types of performers come on, such as gothic burlesque dancers, contortionists, or performance artists. Furthering the feel of the cabaret is their so-called "Brigade." Encouraging fans to organize and create an interactive show environment, the Brigade consists of living statues, balancers, jugglers, kissing booths, cigarette girls handing out dadaist poetry and many other side shows and characters at their show who pepper the crowd and venue areas often interacting directly with the audience and bringing a unique feel to concerts.
- A is for Accident 2003, Re-released in 2005
- The Dresden Dolls 2003 (8-Foot Records), Re-released under Roadrunner 2004
- Yes, Virginia 2006
- No, Virginia 2008
- Girl Anachronism, 8-Foot Records, Dir: Michael Pope (2003)
- Coin Operated Boy, 8-Foot Records, Dir: Michael Pope (2004)
- Sing, Roadrunner, Dir: Michael Pope (2006)
- Shores of California, Roadrunner, Dir: Andrew Bennet (2007)
The band, at least at this point, seems to be rather cool with the passing of live recordings of their songs.
- Sex Changes
- Girl Anachronism
- Dirty Business
- Ultima Esperanza