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Amanda Palmer Plays The Popular Hits Of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukulele

06/11/2010
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The Dresden Dolls' frontwoman Amanda Palmer gleefully announced her release from a major label stranglehold in April after a protracted legal battle with Roadrunner Records.

To celebrate, Palmer hit the home studio of engineer Mick Wordley in Adelaide, Australia and self-produced a collection of Radiohead covers on ukulele (an instrument she learned "as a joke" in 2008 to play the Radiohead song "Creep" at a pal's benefit for Iranian punk musicians), adding minimal touches of prepared and toy piano.

Titled Amanda Palmer Plays The Popular Hits Of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukulele, with '50s kitsch artwork to match, the album may seem a surprisingly plaintive & sweet departure for those familiar with her usually dynamic recordings, but not surprising for those who have been following her live shows. "Creep" became an anthemic request on her world-wide tour last year, making waves when Howard Stern broadcast her version (he fully approved), and making rock history at Coachella when she led a "Creep" sing-a-long held aloft by fans after crowd-surfing across her tent to "Ride of the Valkyries" by Wagner.

Album Tracks include "Idioteque" (the first single, available now via Bandcamp), "Creep", "No Surprises", "High and Dry", "Fake Plastic Trees" and a bonus version of "Exit Music (For a Film)" for piano and string quartet that was recorded live at The Sydney Opera House with Australian arranger Lyndon Chester on violin and San Francisco's famed loop-tech-goddess Zoë Keating on cello.

Palmer has been a very vocal supporter of direct fan-to-artist support and the album will be available for donation online through bandcamp. Unlike In Rainbows, the (in)famous industry-bending donation-only release, Palmer will be asking for a donation of 84¢ or more, 54¢ of which going directly back into Radiohead's pockets for the legal use of their songs (with the remaining 30¢ going to PayPal to cover the transaction fee). Palmer, who is a huge fan of Radiohead's release strategies, is hoping that this will be a good education for music fans about how cover songs "work" and how artists pay for their usage. The album will also be available as a vinyl record (limited to 1,000 pieces) that will be bundled with special extras, including ukuleles hand-painted by Amanda (inspired by the various songs she's covered), as well as a personal phone call from Amanda, during which she'll take song requests (limited, obviously, to her narrow repertoire of Radiohead-via-ukulele covers).

The album (download, vinyl, and bundle order) will be available starting July 17th on the internet form and will be accompanied by a Special Luau Webcast (time TBD) during which Palmer hopes to lead a tiki-lit limbo contest.

"I'm slaphappy with freedom", says Palmer, "and this is the perfect project to celebrate with. I'm really proud of the way this record wound up sounding...it's actually a lot more emotional than I expected. Radiohead songs almost play themselves because the songwriting is so genius, and the ukulele is perfect for laying that genius bare. I tried to strip the songs down as far as possible without destroying them."

Palmer is currently in the middle of a week-long run in NYC with Evelyn Evelyn (her theatrical side-project with Seattle songwriter Jason Webley) at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

Tickets are still currently available for all of the shows, wherein you'll most likely be able to catch one of Palmer's Radiohead covers, in person.

Dates are as follows:

June 10 - Lucille Lortel Theatre - New York, New York
June 11 - Lucille Lortel Theatre - New York, New York
June 12 - Lucille Lortel Theatre - New York, New York
June 13 - Lucille Lortel Theatre - New York, New York
June 17 - 9:30 Club - Washington DC
June 18 - Theater of Living Arts - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
June 19 - House of Blues - Boston, Massachusetts

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