The Key Studio Sessions: Dirty Dollhouse - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

I was hungover the first time I saw Dirty Dollhouse, but thankfully, so were they. It was a Saturday afternoon this spring, I had been out late at a show the night before. Sluggish and disoriented, I made my way to Bucks County’s East Coast Recording with my buddy Dan McGurk from Root Down in the Shadow to watch singer-songwriters Chelsea Mitchell, Amber Twait and Vanessa Winters perform during the studio’s short-lived afternoon concert series; one of the first things Mitchell did was apologize if they sounded off, as the band was also reeling from a whiskey and beer-fueled photo shoot, and were fending off colds to boot. Nonsense: they sounded remarkable, and their resounding Nashville-style harmonies worked wonders on my throbbing head. It was one of those rare perfect musical afternoons, and as the setlist wound into a country-folk spin on Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag,” I found myself an instantly-converted fan.

The trio had only been playing under the Dirty Dollhouse banner for a few months at that point, but they were hardly newcomers. MItchell has been performing as a singer-songwriter locally since 2005; Winters is a founding member of The Lawsuits. When Mitchell released her 2013 EP Married In the Aviary, she recruited Twait and Winters to sing backup for the release party at World Cafe Live. The configuration worked remarkably, and as Mitchell’s songwriting was in flux at that point, she decided to re-invent and re-brand as a trio, choosing a name that’s either tawdry, sad or funny, depending on your interpretation.

The band is wrapping up production on its debut EP, due out this December, and for our Key Studio Session they unveiled some songs from it, along with an old song in the mix (the title track of Aviary). Joining them were accompanists Brad Hinton on pedal steel and banjo, and Phil D’Agostino on bass, and the nuanced Watson Twins-y arrangements on “Old Fires” are chilling just as much as the boot-stomping dancefloor tune “Shake All Over” is invigorating. Along for the ride was Philadelphia videographer Bob Sweeney, who shot the session on Super-8, bringing a dream-like and abstract visual component to “25 Shades.” Listen, download and watch the session below.

The Key Studio Session: Dirty Dollhouse “25 Shades” from Bob Sweeney on Vimeo.

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