wears the trousers magazine

wears the trousers albums of the decade #75-51

part one part threepart four

Here’s the second part of our albums of the decade countdown, running from #75–51.

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Róisín Murphy

[EMI, 2007]

Of all the critical droolfests that failed to ignite on the commercial front this decade, Róisín Murphy’s second solo album is among the most inexplicable damp squibs. The ex-Moloko frontwoman may have shed the avant-garde experimentalism of her solo debut Ruby Blue in favour of full-on disco diva mode, set against a backdrop of thumping, shimmering state-of-the-art production, but it seems the world wasn’t ready to accept even Murphy’s toned down personality quirks. That’s a real shame for although Overpowered is not without its flaws, there is a sense of playful grandeur here that can easily toe the line with Goldfrapp at their most teasing.

Chris Catchpole

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amanda palmer: high on rebellion
March 3, 2009, 3:40 am
Filed under: feature, video, words in edgeways | Tags: , , , , ,


words in edgeways with amanda palmer

Ten days and 65 years after the Normandy Landings, Amanda Palmer will have her very own D-Day, the day she finds out whether or not she will be allowed to devolve from Roadrunner Records, the major-label subsidiary she says has sabotaged her album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer. The D in this case will stand for either ‘drop’ or ‘disaster’. June 16th; mark it in your diaries.

“I may have a little party,” she says with a sharp, arch laugh as we perch on stools in the kitchen of a bijou Camden flat belonging to sci-fi author John Clute and his artist wife Judith. “Maybe I’ll make it a vigil. Maybe we’ll go on a symbolic fast…or a binge! Everybody eat to get Amanda dropped and send in pictures of your ever-fattening bodies to my A&R guy!” Cake in the name of liberation? Now that’s a concept I can stand by.

The delicious irony of Amanda’s pro-gluttonous idea has a short yet tragic history. In November last year Roadrunner execs had what can at best be described as a total awareness bypass, and at worst a cheap and tacky (though admittedly successful) attempt to gain free publicity for an album they refuse to support, instructing Amanda that certain shots in the video for her song ‘Leeds United’ would have to be edited out because she looked too fat. I’m sorry, what? Fat is what’s blocked up their central retinal arteries; Amanda Palmer is perfectly normal, at least in terms of body shape.

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albums of the year: readers poll results (part III of V)

Albums of the year: #30–21


Kaki King
Dreaming Of Revenge

Released: June 2008

What we said then: “Regularly referred to as a “musician’s musician”, Kaki King is clearly an artist who is continuously stretching herself in terms of compositional content as well as expanding her already impressive arsenal of instruments played. The story goes that King arrived at the studio to record Dreaming Of Revenge with a sheaf of detailed notes about how she wanted each track to sound. The producer threw them away, stuck her in a room with a variety of instruments and told her to be creative. That approach is clearly apparent from the content of the work, often free flowing, warm and natural, but also on occasion sounding somehow unfinished and/or unrealised. From a commercial perspective, Kaki King is fighting a clearly uphill battle. Fortunately, she doesn’t seem to care.” •••• Maree Morris

What we say now: Having established herself as an instinctive, fearless guitarist who plays in an idiom that’s all her own, Kaki King continues to embellish her powerful acoustic orchestrations, sometimes with the unfortunate effect of obscuring her genius. Dreaming Of Revenge is a more confident pop album than …Until We Felt Red, but she hasn’t quite patched up all the holes.

Download: ‘I Need A Girl Who Knows A Map’, ‘Saving Days In A Frozen Head’

iTunes £7.99



Marnie Stern
This Is It & I Am It & You Are It & So Is That & He Is It & She Is It & It Is It & That Is That
Kill Rock Stars 

Released: October 2008

What we said then: “The Alan Watts-inspired title of Marnie Stern’s newest record, like the album as a whole, is a strange mixture of intensity, profundity and a meticulous attention to detail that most people only discover on an Adderall binge. While her last album proved that she could nonchalantly play beside the likes of Ed Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen, it hinted at melody but that hinting was never fully realised. This album proves to the world that she can work as an actual songwriter. For every song on this album that shows itself to be an obvious shred-fest, there is another song that takes her sound in – and I use this term very loosely – melodic new directions. Her unique finger-tap style is the thread that runs throughout the album, but it’s the way she knows how to vary that style across the 12 songs that elicits repeated listens.” •••½ Trey Cregan [full review]

What we say now: What a difference a year makes. A revelation after her caterwauling and largely incoherent debut In Advance Of The Broken Arm, Marnie Stern’s mealy-mouthed second album is a pummelling you’ll actually enjoy. Probably the most imaginative, least linear rock album we’ve heard all year. If you’re looking for true individuality, This Is It… is it, and that, of course, is that.

Download: ‘Ruler’, ‘The Package Is Wrapped’

iTunes £7.99



The Dresden Dolls
No, Virginia

Released: May 2008

What we said then: “Once the sole province of those-in-the-know and firmly plugged into the US indie underground, Brechtian punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls have seen their popularity edge further and further upwards with each new album and prestigious support slot. No longer the secret of a select group of adoring fans, it’s fair to say that a great deal of expectation surrounds the quirky twosome. Given the title of third release, No, Virginia, one would be forgiven for anticipating a coherent follow-up, if not a response, to 2006’s Yes, Virginia. Instead, what is offered here comprises rarities, B-sides and assorted oddities culled from the band’s relatively youthful career. Such treasures may be like old friends to the Dolls’ ardent fanbase but still serve as a worthy addition to any casual listener’s record collection.” ••• Sophia Rawlinson [full review]

What we say now: Amanda Palmer’s solo album rather puts this collection of Dresden Dolls offcuts in the shade, and it’s a shame that No, Virginia looks set to be the last we hear of her partnership with percussionist Brian Viglione. Not that it’s bad, just predictably patchy, but who else could consign these variously bizarre and confrontational songs to the backburner and still impress enough of you voters to expend an extra one of your precious nominations?

Download: ‘Dear Jenny’, ‘Pretty In Pink’

iTunes £7.99 (£9.99 for bonus track edition)



Angus & Julia Stone
A Book Like This

Released: March 2008

What we said then: “Coming after two hugely successful EPs, A Book Like This has already achieved success in their homeland of Australia and is utterly lovely. It’s their fey and folksy sound (coupled with a name like Angus) that gives the false impression of Gaelic roots. The songs are not duets; instead, the siblings take turns at singing lead on the different tracks with the other as a backing partner. Though they share a common style, Angus’s voice is smooth and gentle, while Julia’s vocals are more light and strange, giving a great variation in the sound and character of different songs. There are songs to make you sad, songs to make you smile and songs to make you feel a bit less alone. Put simply, A Book Like This is a sublime and startling debut that really shows off the siblings’ talents. The lyrics are quietly powerful, and the music is of that simple kind that still manages to reveal something new on each subsequent listening, of which I predict there will be many.” ••••• Hugh Armitage [full review]

What we say now: The robustness of the Stone siblings’ songs is impressive. Considering we’ve been listening to A Book Like This since it winged its way to us from Australia in September 2007, the album has lost only a touch of its freshness. Five stars? You bet. Just bring on the next one.

Download: ‘Another Day’, ‘The Beast’

iTunes £7.99



School Of Seven Bells
Full Time Hobby

Released: November 2008

What we said then: “Despite sounding formulaic when described on paper, like yet another redux of what The Postal Service were doing in 2003, thankfully that is not at all the case with Alpinisms. Drawing from several uniquely audible influences, the band has created a perfect manifesto for what dream pop should be. Benjamin Curtis’s arrangements are leaps and bounds ahead of anything he did in the Secret Machines, while the Deheza twins have evolved to become melodic geniuses. Their vocals are easily the highlight of the album. The vocal interplay is always interesting whether they’re doing several things at once (’Iamundernodisguise’) or just plain harmonising (’Half Asleep’).” •••• Trey Cregan [full review]

What we say now: Boasting perhaps the most appropriate artwork of the year, Alpinisms is full of pulsing, airy songs that transport you high above the clouds, gliding over glacial ice fields and breathtaking vistas of snow-capped mountains. Only Curtis’s guitar rhythms keep you from vanishing into the ether, buoyed by the uplift of the Deheza twins’ breathy, ethereal vocal thermals. It’s dizzyingly lovely.

Download: ‘Prince Of Peace’, ‘Half Asleep’

FREE MP3: School Of Seven Bells, ‘Connjur

iTunes £7.99



Juana Molina
Un Día

Released: October 2008

What we said then: “The music found here, although bearing all the aesthetic trademarks of folk music, could not be less folksy. Coming across as more like an Autechre album played acoustically, it utilises vocal and acoustic guitar samples, chopping them up to create otherworldly dreamscapes of jittery guitars and overlapping voices. Rarely does Juana Molina use any actual language to communicate. Instead, she sings in garbled chants, exclamations and incantations, with the title track being one of the few that features discernable lyrics. The unconventional, drone-like arrangement of the pieces adds to the sense that Un Día is less an album of songs, more a pulsating, shifting collage of acoustic sound.” •••½ Rob Tamplin [full review]

What we say now: Proving that repetition does not necessarily imply a lack of ideas, Juana Molina continues to quietly weird us out with her organic loops and inventive use of vocal layering. Peculiar noises prick through the recumbent rhythms lying deep in the mix, for the most part demanding attention, while structure is all but abandoned. She just keeps on getting better.

Download: ‘Vive Solo’, ‘¿Quién? (Suite)’

iTunes £6.32



Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
Sunday Best

Released: July 2008

What we said then: “To witness Kitty, Daisy and Lewis Durham strumming and swinging, their hairdos, clothes and voices boldly recalling an era before even their parents were born, it’s clear there’s something jazzy going on in North London. Having been performing together since 2000, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis know their music inside out and, with youthful exuberance on their side, have developed an act that revitalises the sounds of the Deep South’s kings and queens of roots music. Though most critical acclaim of this self-titled debut praises them for neglecting computerisation, it is not the lack of a precise element that makes Kitty, Daisy & Lewis so charming. It is the sibling band’s attention to detail and loyalty to the creative process – their impressive, heavily practiced ability to quicken their pace to the demanding meter of blues and country – that earns them boasting rights.” •••½ Paige Taylor [full review]

What we say now: Kitty, Daisy & Lewis delivers handsomely on the stylistic front that the three young siblings have rehearsed to perfection, but it’s not an album we’ve returned to all that often. Not when there’s Wanda Jackson to blast. Musically accomplished and definitely charming, however, the Durhams have an undeniably bright future ahead.

Download: ‘Going Up The Country’, ‘Mean Son Of A Gun’

iTunes £7.99



Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles

Released: April 2008

What we said then: “Otherworldly electro-crazy-clash, warped dance beats amalgamated amongst laborious vocals – that’s Crystal Castles. From the off, this record has the ability to gain victory over those who look at the Canadian duo, with their ‘fashionista’ demeanour, and disregard them as the latest fad. Crystal Castles are no fad. They will never be commercial enough to be a fad. They live and work by their own rules. This not a simple case of style over substance; for Crystal Castles, style is irrelevant and substance overrated. The going can be gloomy, hellish even, at times…but then that’s life for you. Who doesn’t enjoy a lively love song about taxidermy?” •••½ Lipsy Pennell [full review]

What we say now: Despite being mired in various controversies for much of the year – singer Alice’s wild onstage antics, copyright disputes over artwork and samples – Crystal Castles successfully brought their relentlessly pounding, warped 8-bit synths to the edge of the indie mainstream, menacingly shrieking from the perimeter and threatening to wreck it all down. It’s still standing, of course, but the album remains an exhilarating rush of noise.

Download: ‘Love & Caring’, ‘Black Panther’

iTunes £7.99



Gregory & The Hawk
Moenie & Kitchi

Released: September 2008

What we said then: “Moenie & Kitchi, the follow up to last year’s self-released In Your Dreams, encapsulates perfectly a wish to encourage life to unfold regardless of what it might bring, perhaps a form of escapism from the hustle and bustle of her native New York. Meredith Godreau’s citation of Nick Drake as an influence is clear from the outset, as she shares a talent and obvious passion for writing melodic folk, often delicately whispering through each subtly textured or beautifully simple track. A pure vocal and an acoustic guitar predominantly set the scene for the journey through the world outside, a world Godreau finds so obviously captivating and yet also makes so captivating through her music.” •••• Anna Claxton [full review]

What we say now: Gregory & The Hawk specialise in short and subtly catchy folk with experimental pop sensibilities and Moenie & Kitchi is their masterpiece to date. Formerly a one-woman project, the augmentation of Meredith Godreau’s typically delicate and comforting vocals with thoughtful arrangements from a well-honed rhythm section has expanded the scope of the music and, accordingly, widened its appeal. One for the dreamers.

Download: ‘Ghost’, ‘Stonewall, Stone Fence’

FREE MP3: Gregory & The Hawk, Grey Weather[thanks to The Line Of Best Fit]

iTunes £7.99



Emmylou Harris
All I Intended To Be

Released: June 2008

What we said then: “A new Emmylou Harris solo record is always a particular treat, and All I Intended To Be represents a very fine addition to her catalogue. It’s something of a pleasure to find Harris less adorned and more acoustic here, and, as ever, performing a range of judiciously selected material that reveals greater depths with each listen. Loss, longing, love and redemption remain the major themes, along with a pervasive sense that any true spiritual journey must be undertaken alone. Harris continues to redefine what it means to be a vital, enduring artist in an industry in which women over 30 (let alone 60) have generally been deemed to have outlived their usefulness. An endlessly compelling mixture of grit and ghostly sighs, sculpted by time and experience, her singing seems to grow ever more powerful and distinctive as the years go by, its subtle command worth that of a million over-emoting divas.” •••• Alex Ramon [full review]

What we say now: Do Emmylou Harris albums ever feel outdated? We can’t think of any, certainly not among her recent releases. All I Intended To Be remains as solid and unshakably classy as the first time we clapped ears on it. 

Download: ‘Shores Of White Sand’,  ‘All That You Have Is Your Soul’

iTunes £7.99


outraged amanda palmer fans mount ‘rebellyon’
November 26, 2008, 4:48 pm
Filed under: news, trouser press, video | Tags: , , , , ,


Label comments spark online campaign for healthy body image

Does Amanda Palmer look fat to you? No, of course she doesn’t. You’d have to be a total body fascist to think so. But according to Amanda, that’s exactly what her label Roadrunner Records told her after watching the first cut of the video for her latest single, ‘Leeds United’. They wanted to re-edit the video to cut out some of the so-called offending shots but she rightly refused. “I thought they were on crack,” she writes in her blog. “I’m a vain motherfucker. I know when I look fat…I hate shots of myself where I look heavy with child. But THIS?? This was just nonsense. I thought I looked HOT.”

Her notoriously devoted fans were quick to respond, posting images of their own slogan-bearing bellies on the Amanda Palmer/Dresden Dolls fan forum and whizzing off reproachful emails to the label. With over 100 images collected in less than 48 hours, the plan is to print them all out and post them, along with personal stories of belly solidarity, to the label’s HQ in protest. As one fan writes, “This is not just about Amanda Palmer’s belly. This is about all the bellies of the world: Big, small, hairy, stretch-marked, scarred, pregnant, every single belly. The aim is to reclaim the belly; to promote a healthy body image for everyone (not just females) and to protest against the “barbie dolling” of artists by record companies and the media.”

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amanda palmer dedicates new video to sarah palin
October 30, 2008, 9:12 pm
Filed under: news, trouser shorts, video | Tags: , , , , , ,

Abortion tale gets hilariously graphic video

Binge drinking, simulated sex, fundamentalist Christian protesters and a bright pink coathanger going somewhere it shouldn’t. Yep, it can only be the long-awaited video for Amanda Palmer’s ‘Oasis’, a relentlessly perky tale of a reckless young lady who gets pregnant after drinking too much at a party but it’s all okay because her favourite Britpop band send her a letter. It’s all a bit ‘Little Britain’, but, y’know, actually funny. Watch out for Ben Folds as her nervous, long-suffering boyfriend and that little snitch Melissa. Video of the year so far? VP hopeful Sarah Palin, a staunchly anti-choice pro-lifer, will surely disagree, which is all the more reason to celebrate Amanda’s dedicating the clip to the nauseating “pitbull in lipstick”.

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trouser press: amanda palmer, the bird & the bee and more

in today’s trouser press:

– Amanda Palmer gets run over in Belfast, plays on
– the future of The Bird & The Bee is not just about Ray Guns
– indie rock royalty auction off signage for charity
– big band singer Connie Haines dies
– Polaris Prize goes to none of the people we wanted to win
– new Serena Ryder album details
– Madonna fined £135k for being tardy
– Mindy McCready starts 60-day jail sentence
– three decades on, Labelle are back!
– Lederhosen Lucil is… Krista Muir
– Enya to release “a broader seasonal album”
– Céline gets the essential and ultimate essential treatment

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Who killed Amanda Palmer? No one, but if you’ve ever doubted that she’s one tough cookie then cease your disbelief now. The punk cabaret artist went ahead and played a gig for young fans in Belfast on Sunday night despite having a rather nasty accident with a moving car earlier in the day that left her with a broken toe and three broken metatarsals in her right foot. After spending the afternoon in Belfast City Hospital she hobbled over to Auntie Annie’s on crutches so as not to disappoint her fans.

“I had an accident today,” she said while on stage at the venue. “I did what most stupid Americans do and walked on the wrong side of the road and ended up getting run over…I have to say I’m very grateful for the free healthcare that you have in Northern Ireland. This is the first show I’ve played where I’m completely on drugs.”

The accident wraps up a week full of dramas for the singer after her Dresden Dolls bandmate Brian Viglione confirmed the band’s ‘demise’ through a posting on their official forum. Apparently she wasn’t expecting that. Amanda’s post on the whole mess makes for insightful and thought-provoking reading. 

* * *

That Inara George just can’t sit still for a minute. In the 18 months since the first Bird & The Bee album, her ongoing collaboration with in-demand songwriter/producer Greg Kurstin has sprouted two EPs of all-new songs – 2007’s Please Clap Your Hands and this year’s One Too Many Hearts – and she’s only just released her second solo album, An Invitation, a richly orchestrated collaboration with family friend Van Dyke Parks. As someone who has been known to work on three different releases at once we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that there’s a new Bird & The Bee album coming out in the not too distant future (January, to be precise). It’s called Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, for reasons I am sure will become perfectly clear at some point. Is it me or are they slowly morphing into The Avengers? Anyway, the 14-song album only pinches two EP songs (‘Birthday’ and ‘Polite Dance Song’); the rest are brand new.

Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future
01 Fanfare
02 My Love
03 Diamond Dave
04 What’s In The Middle
05 Ray Gun
06 Love Letter To Japan
07 Meteor
08 Baby
09 Phil
10 Polite Dance Song
11 You’re A Cad
12 Witch
13 Birthday
14 Lifespan Of A Fly

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amanda palmer: who killed amanda palmer (2008)

Amanda Palmer
Who Killed Amanda Palmer ••••

The self-portrait of Amanda Palmer’s soul, circa 1985, was a mesh of Michelangelo’s ‘Last Judgment’ and Miró. Like a map from Tolkien’s ‘Lord Of The Rings’, with its mountain ranges of adolescent angst and sea of guilt, Palmer’s troubled soul drawing is illustrative of her humorous self-pity, as if she is laughing through peeled-onion tears.

Bringing this dark comedy to the table for Who Killed Amanda Palmer, she adds a well-rounded solo debut to her encyclopaedia of artistry with The Dresden Dolls and last year’s eyebrow-raising Evelyn Evelyn side project. Co-produced with similarly arch keyboard whizz Ben Folds, the album is rife with trumpet blasts, strings and Palmer’s trademark piano percussion, but it’s not always clear whether Palmer has done a thorough enough job of disconnecting from The Dresden Dolls’ Brechtian punk cabaret stylings to make Who Killed Amanda Palmer more than just another album for the band’s repertoire. Fans of pre-solo Palmer will not feel betrayed as she hikes along a familiar range – especially familiar to lovers of songs like ‘Girl Anachronism’ – with her unmistakable voice providing the signature link to the past as she takes the forked trail toward solo fame.

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the dresden dolls: no, virginia (2008)
July 15, 2008, 8:58 pm
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , , ,

The Dresden Dolls
No, Virginia •••

Once the sole province of those-in-the-know and firmly plugged into the US indie underground, Brechtian punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls have seen their popularity edge further and further upwards with each new album and prestigious support slot (Nine Inch Nails / Panic! At The Disco). No longer the secret of a select group of adoring fans, it’s fair to say that a great deal of expectation surrounds the quirky twosome. Given the title of third release (2003’s live album A Is For Accident makes four if you’re picky), No, Virginia, one would be forgiven for anticipating a coherent follow-up, if not a response, to 2006’s Yes, Virginia. Instead, what is offered here comprises rarities, B-sides and assorted oddities culled from the band’s relatively youthful career. Such treasures may be like old friends to the Dolls’ ardent fanbase but still serve as a worthy addition to any casual listener’s record collection.

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the dresden dolls: agents provocateurs

words in edgeways with amanda palmer of the dresden dolls
Pianos, painted eyebrows and gender realignment. Just an average day for the Dresden Dolls discovers Andrzej Lukowski.

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issue four: thea gilmore

issue one cover issue one contents

FEATURING: thea gilmore, lisa germano, broadcast, the dresden dolls, the cardigans, joan as police woman, psapp, juana molina, the puppini sisters, emily haines, mia doi todd, nerina pallot, astrid williamson, amy wadge, inara george, lou rhodes, rainer maria, tender trap, stephanie kirkham and a fond farewell to sleater-kinney