Dirty Projectors- Bitte Orca
Back in June I went to see TV on the Radio play to a sold out crowd at Amos’ Southend in Charlotte. I had TOTR on the brain that night, so I was anxious to get the opening band out of the way. But much to my surprise I got my first taste of the pop deliciousness that is The Dirty Projectors. I also got to see that “little opening band” use their hip-hop beats and odd harmonies to completely overshadow the headlining act.
Like a kid on Christmas morning, I woke early the next day to download their album, and since then I have been carrying on a public love affair with The Dirty Projectors and Bitte Orca.
I don’t think it’s fair to compare artists to one another, since hopefully it is their goal to create something new and unique (boy bands excluded). In the case of The Dirty Projectors, I don’t even think I could compare them to anyone if I wanted to because their sound is just so unique and way too hard to classify. In fact, it feels like they are purposefully fighting against being pigeon holed into any category, which is one of the main reasons they are on my list this year. The best way to describe this band and their sound is to look at the title of this album. The band confesses that “Bitte Orca” has no meaning at all; they just liked the way it sounded. And it’s by this principle of creating really interesting sounds that the rest of the album is defined. You might not have any life changing revelations from their lyrics, but you can’t help but remember their sound.
So Here’s line-up of the band, as directed by me: Dave Longstreth (the fearless leader, singer and guitarist); Amber Coffman, Angel Deradoorian, Haley Deckle (the angels/singers/players of various instruments); Brian Mcomber (skilled with a beat); and Nat Baldwin (bringer of the jazz/bassist). Each member of DP plays his/her role with such great precision that their shows comes off more as orchestrated events than jam sessions. The band as a whole is completely reliant on each member’s participation and in my opinion, the result is just magical.
The sounds is a mix between hip hop, pop and new wave with each song having a life and a flavor all its own. If we were to compare this album to a novel, it would probably most closely resemble Alice In Wonderland with its odd characters, occasional discord and overall whimsy. “Stillness is the Move” has a distinctive hip hop vibe with Longstreth relinquishing the mic to Amber Coffman for her R&B twist. “Cannibal Resource” and “Temecula Sunrise” are indie-pop treats that incorporate the talents of all band members.
For me, the crowning jewel of this album is “Useful Chamber”, a song which houses the line that inspired the album’s name. This song in particular does the best job of showcasing the way Longstreth brilliantly orchestrates the odd with the beautiful. The “angels” flow gracefully from harmonies that strike a bit of discord to perfectly pitched harmonies which have garnered them their celestial title. This production of mixing the unusual with the beautiful is a constant theme throughout and it is executed with enough tact to keep the listener begging for more. The allure is that you never know what’s in store with the next track.
This is a young band (envision Urban Outfitters ads, and you’ve got a pretty accurate picture) and their youth can be felt all over the album. The downside to this youth is that sometimes the lyrics can be a little too preachy and maybe a bit self-righteous. The upside is they are not afraid to experiment with sounds and ideas, and as a result the album is bursting with creativity and possibility. It’s nice to see artists testing the limits instead of trying to imitate. Kudos.
Listen: Useful Chamber
Listen: Stillness is the Move