Thursday, 16 August 2012 06:42


Dirty Projectors Official Site

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Any Dirty Projectors release has always intially served to confound and challenge its listener. The Brooklyn based David Longstreth led project continues down this path with the Projectors latest album Swing Lo Magellan, a wide and varied sonic landscape that is eternally restless and ever changing. Musically, like with Bitte Orca before it, its twelve tracks positively leap of the written page and include so many change ups that stem from the recesses of Longstreth's overly active mind that it can leave your head spinning. Like with any piece of cerebrally charged music, you're unlikely to get it over the first few listens which, without the employment of patience, could threaten to derail the whole project as overwrought and overblown in the minds of many. But persistence pays off and eventually reveals a magically creative and quirky piece of genius which will, in all likelihood, result in Swing Lo Magellan being the independent album of the year. And importantly, the finished product leaves one in no doubt that Longstreth could not have pulled it off without the towering force of harmonies stemming from the vocals of multi-instrumentalists Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle and the solidly spectacular rhythm section work of Brian McOmber and Nat Baldwin.

Dealing in the abstract lyrically has always comforted Longstreth. His penchant for loosely self- generated meaning has always been preferred. However, on this record he made a concerted decision to get down and personal, albeit as personal as Longstreth can get. At times, its clear he's rightly unhappy about the state of affairs right now in the world. Just check to the first three tracks as evidence for starters. The last track is telling too. But that's not to say, it's all doom and gloom as his ode to Coffman suggests. Swing Lo Magellan is also more song oriented and not looking to centre on a single idea and that is borne out by the meticulous attention to detail in the songwriting arrangements themselves. While sometimes they seem to have a mind of their own and don't seem to hand on any pre-conceived notion of discipline, nothing could be further from the truth. Even though there are moments of brevity and studio moments outside the songs captured casually and left in for posterity, the determination of Longstreth to make a songs based album is clear. And these gems were culled from around 70 or 80 of them.

Dirty Projectors exploration of sound usually coalesces into interesting results. Take the bass drum on the superb first track, 'Offspring Are Blank'. Rather than the thud of the bass drum it's the reverberations of that thud that nestle down in the recording that seem to preoccupy Longstreth the producer. Minimal harmonies sit perfectly alongside Longstreth's emotionally charged vocals while he alternates between dirty electric and clean acoustic guitar work. Equally impressive is 'About To Die' where again interesting percussive elements are employed. A hollow triplet is used and combined with a solid four four beat to give the track a slow dance feel. The ultra smooth 'Gun Has No Trigger' is next with its harmonies and stilted beat dominating until Longstreth's somewhat strained but appropriate vocals take front and centre. He laments political and social ignorance throughout the track, repeating the refrain 'If you really looked'. He seems to be so critical of rampant inertia that the ultimate action that the title suggests is a sad metaphor for it.

The title track is a gorgeous little ode musically but again is punctuated by the caveat of the great distance between humans and nature. Intricate arrangements abound on the rail against the social and environmental dangers of big oil, 'Just From Chevron', "Where she (the oil) collapses into the shore". There is a sense of hopeless, yet determined defiance, "Don't think I won't try, when I close my eyes, whatever the people will drive, I swear I will survive. All of my friends my enemies too, live in the shadows of the dirtiest few". A celebration seemingly  abounds on 'Dance For You' where its bubbly disposition almost enables you to skip down the road alongside Longstreth as he sings "I boogie down Gargoyle Street".

Hanging tremolo and vibrato guitar and an inside out beat herald the beginning of Side Two. 'Maybe That Was It' combines falsetto vocals, percolating guitar, an intermittent beat and crashing percussion to maximum cascading effect. Indeed the track is one of the albums many highlights. 'Impregnable Question' seems to be a term that could be said to preoccupy the whole album but personally its an ode to Coffman, who is currently in a relationship with Longstreth. "We don't see eye to eye, But I need you, And you're always on my mind...We have shared it all, We have both stood tall, What is mine is yours, in happiness and strife, You're my love, And I want you in my life". 'See What She's Seeing' employs strings to emotive effect as the ping pong like percussion (bit of Flying Lotus perhaps) engulfs the perfect harmonies that belie the lyrical disconsolation, 'I can see what she's seeing' and then directly to the protagonist, 'but you can't see me'.

'The Socialites' sees Coffman take vocal duties. Her angelic voice is all over the track as she sings tellingly, 'We’ll never let on the face you wear is wrong...we'll never let on, when you meet someone real'. That reluctant fakeness that sometimes needs to be employed to survive a soulless world is represented by the warped guitar note that high-lows throughout. 'Unto Caesar' begins with a nostalgic 60s feel and that continues throughout with the string arrangements, only to be rudely but appropriately interrupted by the chorus. It's on this track that Longstreth's dominance is playfully and wryly toyed with by Coffman and Dekle, who seem to mock him somewhat stating his lyrics 'don't make any sense'. It's really important that this was left on the album. Longstreth and company, even when their tongues have been firmly in cheek have sometimes, wrongly, had the aura of inpenetrability. This helps rectify this anomaly somewhat. 'Irresponsible Tune' is the musical nightcap the album had to have. But lyrics wise it's no comfortable end to the metaphorical night. Longstreth is as direct and as pointed as ever, "In my heart there is music, in my mind is a song, but in my eyes a world crooked, fucked up and wrong".

Swing Lo Magellan is peppered lyrically with asides to being on the outside. Existing outside of peoples easy intellectual reach and being acutely aware of the inanities, gullibilities and stupidities of the mainstream herd can be a liberating but also quite alienating experience. That juxtaposition though, can be held up like a mirror to the Dirty Projectors' entire career. Their strength is that their mainstay has never played to the crowd and that means the end result always matters where its important - in its art, in its concepts and this time especially in its individual songs. On 'The Socialites', Coffman sings Longstreth's lyric, "I’m glad they’re the ones on the other side of the glass, Who knows what my spirit is worth in cold hard cash". For the sake of independent artistry in music lets hope that question is increasingly rarely asked and never answered. Often seemingly initially  impenetrable, Dirty Projectors always reward patience and once again with Swing Lo Magellan, the term, it will reward you in spades, doesn't even come close to giving a clue as to how much it will.  What's next for Longstreth and company, who knows? But one thing is for sure, it will matter.

James Stocker - August 16, 2012


Offspring Are Blank

Dirty Projectors (USA)
From the album, 'Swing Lo Magellan', Domino.

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Live at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on July 9, 2012

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April 15, 2014


Hard Boiled, Soft Boiled

Buzz Records

Odonis Odonis Official Site

Buy here

1. Tension
2. Are We Friends
3. Order In The Court
4. New Obsession
5. Breathing Hard
6. Mr Smith
7. Release
8. Angus Mountain
9. Office Sluts
10. Highnote
11. Transmission From The Moon
12. Alexa Wait

April 15, 2014


Under Color Of Official Right

Hardly Art

Protomartyr Facebook

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1. Maidenhead
2. Ain't So Simple
3. Want Remover
4. Trust Me Billy
5. Pagans
6. What The Wall Said
7. Tarpeian Rock
8. Bad Advice
9. Son Of Dis
10. Scum, Rise!
11. I Stare At Floors
12. Come & See
13. Violent
14. I'll Take That Applause

April 1, 2014




Future Islands Official Site

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1. Seasons (Wating On You)
2. Spirit
3. Sun In the Morning
4. Doves
5. Back In The Tall Grass
6. A Song For Our Grandfathers
7. Light House
8. Like The Moon
9. Fall From Grace
10. A Dream Of You And Me


March 25, 2014


Lost In The Dream

Secretly Canadian

The War On Drugs Official Site

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1. Under The Pressure
2. Red Eyes
3. Suffering
4. An Ocean In Between The Waves
5. Disappearing
6. Eyes To The Wind
7. The Haunting Idle
8. Burning
9. Lost In The Dream
10. In Reverse


March 18, 2014




Real Estate Official Site

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1. Had To Hear
2. Past Lives
3. Talking Backwards
4. April's Song
5. The Bend
6. Crime
7. Primitive
8. How Might I Live
9. Horizon
10. Navigator


March 11, 2014


Present Tense


Wild Beasts Official Site

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1. Wanderlust
2. Nature Boy
3. Mecca
4. Sweet Spot
5. Daughters
6. A Pregnant Pause
7. A Simple Beautiful Truth
8. A Dog's Life
9. Past Perfect
10. New Life
11. Palace


March 4, 2014


Burn Your Fire For No Witness


Angel Olsen Official Site

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1. Unfucktheworld
2. Forgiven/Forgotten
3. Hi-Five
4. White Fire
5. High & Wild
6. Lights Out
7. Stars
8. Iota
9. Dance  Slow Decades
10. Enemy
11. Windows


February 25, 2014



Caldo Verde

Sun Kil Moon Official Site

Buy here (CD Only - no vinyl release)

1. Carissa
2. I Can't Live Without My Mother's Love
3. Truck Driver
4. Dogs
5. Pray For Newtown
6. Jim Wise
7. I Love My Dad
8. I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same
9. Richard Ramirez Died Today Of Natural Causes
10. Micheline
11. Ben's My Friend


February 18, 2014


Three Love Songs

Orchid Tapes

Ricky Eat Acid Facebook

Buy limited edition vinyl here

Download free digital version here

1. There Is Only You In The Light & Nothing Else
2. Driving Alone Past Roadwork At Night
3. Inside My House; Some Place I Keep Dreaming About
4. Big Man's Last Trip Outside
5. In Rural Virginia; Watching Glowing Lights Crawl From The Dark Corners Of The Room
6. Inside Your House; It Will Swallow Us Too
7. It Will Draw Me Over To It Like It Always Does
8. In My Dreams We're Almost Touching
9. God Puts Us All In The Swimming Pool
10. Outside Your House; The Lights Went Out & There Was Nothing
11. I Can Hear The Heart Breaking As One
12. Starting Over


February 11, 2014



We Were Never Being Boring

Be Forest Facebook

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1. Totem
2. Captured Heart
3. Lost Boy
4. Ghost Dance
5. Airwaves
6. Totem II
7. Colours
8. Sparkle
9. Hideaway


February 4, 2014


The Age Of Fracture

Tough Love Records

Cymbals Facebook

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1. Winter '98
2. The Natural World
3. You Are
4. Empty Space
5. The 5%
6. The Fracture Of Age
7. Like An Animal
8. Erosion
9. This City
10. The End
11. Call Me




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1. Seasons (Waiting On You)
Future Islands (USA)
2. Beautiful Criminal
3. Copper Thief
Case Conrad (SWE)
4. Psychic Trauma
Cloud Nothings (USA)
5. No Romance
Tirzah (ENG)
6. Battles
7. The Space Between Us
+/- (USA)
8. Come & See
Protomartyr (USA)
9. Interference Fits
Perfect Pussy (USA)
10. Cockscombs
Deepest Bison (USA)





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