Brent Johnson’s Lost Songs: ‘Dirty Business’ by The Dresden Dolls

brent johnson digs up another lost treasure, this week from The Dresden Dolls …

Some musicians need to be seen. Think David Bowie. Alice Cooper. Lady Gaga.

And Amanda Palmer.

For those who don’t know her, Palmer plays a style of music she calls “punk cabaret” — a mixture of German music-hall piano; lyrics that are twisted, funny and macabre; vocals that soar and crack. She plays it dressed in black fishnets, with white facepaint and unshaved armpits. And when she stands on stage, beaming with a ringleader’s confidence, you can’t help but stare.

Palmer rose to fame at the turn of the 21st century as one half of the avant-garde rock duo The Dresden Dolls. She pounded the piano and sang while Brian Viglione smashed his drum kit with glee. They never became major pop stars, but they attracted a fiercely loyal following with their circus-like live shows and three fantastic albums. All of them were packed with sparse but hummable songs about coin-operated boyfriends, evil men and women and the heartbreak of seeing your ex’s Jeep drive by. Watch Palmer spit venom with flair on ‘Dirty Business,’ a track from their best record, 2006’s Yes, Virginia …:

Now a solo artist, Palmer has a massive cult fanbase that religiously reads her Twitter feed and downloads the music she offers up on her blog, often for free. She’s also married to another cult artist: graphic novelist Neil Gaiman.

Palmer will be on stage tonight at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J. I suggest anyone who’s free to stop by and see for themselves.