Friday, March 26, 2021

Doing the Pandora shuffle, 3rd edition

"OK, Google. Shuffle my Pandora."

"Ice of Phoenix," Audiomachine (Phenomena, 2014):
As far as I know, this is the first time I've encountered this band. It's an ambient instrumental track dominated by synthesizer and orchestra arrangements, not particularly interesting. A quick look at Wikipedia says Audiomachine is a production company headed by two guys who make music mostly for film soundtracks. They've been around since 2005 and have been releasing commercially available albums since 2012. Next.

"Good Day," The Dresden Dolls (The Dresden Dolls, 2003):
This duo -- Amanda Palmer on electric piano and lead vocals, Brian Viglione on drums and occasionally acoustic guitar -- built a pretty good worldwide cult following when they were around. They released two studio albums, an album of outtakes and a couple of live DVDs from 2000 to 2008 and have reunited for live dates several times since. A full blog post about Palmer is on my to-do list. This song is the opening track on the debut album and was the Dolls' first single. Palmer described the Dolls' music as "dark cabaret." I would describe it as piano-based indie rock with a dash of Brechtian drama. Think "Alabama Song" by The Doors brought into the 21st century. More on this band later at Geezerology.

"Temptation Eyes," The Grass Roots (single, 1971):
You know this one. It reached No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, but more significantly, it hung around the charts for more than four months. That's some impressive longevity. The track I am hearing is the original mono mix, with Rob Grill's vocals double-tracked in the chorus to add some depth. The stereo mix that showed up later in compilation albums used a one vocal track. The Grass Roots, originally the Grassroots, has had a long though sporadic history, mostly as a pickup band for Grill once the brand name became established. It's been a revolving door of session musicians over the years. Creed Bratton, a supporting actor on "The Office," was the lead singer for a couple of years before Grill came along.

"Missed Me," The Dresden Dolls (The Dresden Dolls, 2003): It happened again, usually a rarity but the second time while live blogging. This is one my two or three favorite Dresden Dolls songs. I would call it their signature tune. A staccato piano-drum rhythm straight out of German cabaret backs a darkly funny Palmer narrative: A playground taunt starts a nasty chain of events that eventually lands a young man in prison. "It serves you right for kissing little girls," the antagonist sneers.

"The Medicine Show," The Dream Syndicate (Medicine Show, 1984):
Another band on my Geezerology to-do list. Frontman Steve Wynn, as a matter of fact, will turn up in my next post as a founder of The Baseball Project. This is the band's second LP, their major-label debut on A&M Records. The Dream Syndicate was part of what was known as the Paisley Underground in Los Angeles in the mid-'80s. They were never successful on a national scale but developed a good cult following and were highly regarded as forerunners of the indie-rock movement of the '90s. I would describe their music as a psychedelia/post-punk hybrid. Wynn's deadpan vocals and Karl Precoda's searing guitar leads were distinguishing characteristics. I loved this album back in the day -- as well as the indie-label 1982 debut, The Days of Wine and Roses, which was even better and since was released by Rhino Records.

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