AMA #8: One-Eyed Doll

Maybe I’m missing something. Or maybe this is one of those bands you have to see live…

One-Eyed Doll (composed of Kimberly Freeman and Jason “Junior” Sewell) is an Austin area punk/goth band that has been playing together since 2006 and has gathered a rather large cult following. In the past three years they have won the Austin Music Award for Best Punk Band and this year added Best Industrial/Goth Band, while being recognized in the top ten of several other categories, such as Best Female Vocalist and Best New Band, finally now ascending to top ten status in the overall Band of the Year category.

I consider myself an avid fan of punk music. I even went so far as to write my AP U.S. History thesis on American Hardcore in the 1980s. And oddly enough, that’s why it’s hard for me to get into One-Eyed Doll. While the music rocks pretty hard, lead singer Kimberly Freeman’s voice just doesn’t do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, she has a beautiful voice. In fact she sounds eerily similar to the lead singer and guitarist of The Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan. But that is the problem: her voice is too nice to work with the kind of music she’s playing.

I have always loved female punk singers. I feel that male punk singers too often equate anger with machismo and end up sounding like assholes. One-Eyed Doll has songs about various goth mainstays like suicide, murder, and blood. Yet, Freeman doesn’t effectively sell the intensity of these subjects because her voice never feels strained or pushed, leading to songs with ample distortion but lacking punch. To me the idea of punk is not to sound good but to sound real. The vocals – and honestly, the production all around – sound too polished to feel genuine.

However, I do like some aspects of this band. They are good musicians who aren’t afraid to try things outside of their genre’s tropes. “Beautiful Freak” off of 2010’s Break reveals an awesomely catchy chorus that stutters into an electric breakdown for its last bar before returning to the chugging guitar verse. It throws you off and keeps the song from becoming too standard. This band also has a great sense of humor, such as on the single “You’re a Vampire,” which details the limits one encounters when dating the undead: “I’d like to go on a picnic with you / but you’ll explode in the sun / I introduce you to all of my friends / but you always drink their blood.” Clever stuff.

One-Eyed Doll - Beautiful Freak

Overall I didn’t like most of this band’s stuff, but I can see why a lot of people would. Their latest album, Break, is available for download here with suggested donations (it will, though, let you download it for free!). Check it out and let us know what you think!