Making it Simple Here/Now: Dirty Projectors Dave Stampone 7.10.9
Pass on it and you may miss your favorite show of the year -- or, at the least, miss the chance to make up your own mind ...
Because, sure, you might’ve read something already on the band/their new record/etc. -- maybe even critical expressions of uncertainties, doubts, etc., concerning same.
I wish I had time to get into these, specific to the local SD press even, and convincingly counter-argue -- or just plain correct, where things (read: errors) are more objective than subjective.
Just going to serve up some original pre-edit/full-strength copy for two things I’ve written recently about DP, already printed elsewhere in (thus, substantially, notably) different versions. And in fact, for the present, I’m not even going to go in and addend to what I’ve already written ... Tho, true, the temptation is there, to get in what mental outtakes wouldn’t fit before -- say, to muse about one of DirPros’ Black Flag covers thusly:
“ ...i.e., “Rise Above,” always achingly anthemic when done DP-style -- lines like “We-e are tired of your abuse/ Try-y and stop us but its no use” slowed up and allowed to breathe with intense melodic emotion -- and coming off even moreso when heard here less than a week after those potent sounds/images of inspiringly defiant Iranians protesting a suspect election began to dominate the news ...”
No. Gotta stop. Wouldn’t be right, kinda ...
If anything below helps you decide to go -- or no -- great.
If not, here’s hoping that reading some/all of said verbiage might be somehow worthwhile -- perhaps even prompting you to make your own pertinent related points sooner or later.
[In morn-after review of Philadelphia, PA, 6-17-2009 show]
The glorious promise of art rock, shamelessly fulfilled -- such were the best moments of Dirty Projectors’ very sold-out show on Wednesday in the First Unitarian Church’s humid basement. The Brooklyn band began their headlining summer tour here with head-spinning aplomb, mostly showcasing their enthralling new (fifth) album Bitte Orca, likely to stand as one of the year’s best.
African-influenced lefty guitarist and DP majordomo Dave Longstreth lead the way via boldly expressive falsetto croons and swoops on mic, matched by the complex vocal arrangements of Angel Deradoorian, newcomer Hayley Dekle and Amber Coffman (who took a break from her math-rock guitar-slinging to dance around and soulfully belt out their prog-Mariah single “Stillness Is the Move.”) The women combined in sparkling unison or alternating cooing while bassist Nat Baldwin and drummer Brian McOmber (a Penn science lab researcher) worked the quirky, often startling time shifts.
Highlights included ... everything, including a three-song mini-set drawn from their last album Rise Above, a re-imagining of Black Flag’s 1981 classic Damaged LP, Longstreth winding down the title track with nimble runs showing the influence of late Mali blues master guitarist Ali Farka Toure.
Vieux Farka Toure, Ali’s 27-year-old son, burned through his 45-minute set with his tight band of three countryman and ex-Skeleton Key drummer Tim Keiper, focused almost entirely on material from his excellent new sophomore album Fondo. Following last Tuesday’s fine Philly performance of Amadou Bagayoko (with wife Mariam and band), it was the second local display of crack Malian guitar playing in little over a week -- but the itchy energy of youth distinguished Farka Toure, who picked out scintillating torrents of trebly notes. The effect was hypnotic, quickening loping cuts on the new record like “Fafa” and even the Afro-reggae “Diarby Magni.”
Skeletons opened, experimental Brooklyn compatriots of Dirty Projectors whose odd free-jazz-rock forays and sung/spoken vocal flights -- not to mention conceptual pursuits -- earned them early comparisons to DP.
In the end, though, the concert-goers surged forth into the light rain illuminated by Dirty Projectors, some still shaking their heads in disbelief over how good they were. The satisfying encore set involved the older “Ground Underfoot,” off 2003’s The Glad Fact, and the closing “Knotty Pine,” their collaboration with unabashed booster David Byrne on the Dark Was The Night benefit compilation (and which he hopped onstage to do with them, unplanned, at last weekend’s Bonnaroo fest).
Come to think of it, the conclusion of Byrne’s effusive praise of Bitte Orca, quoted on Domino Records’ website, serves well in speaking for many moved to raving about the Dirty Projectors experience overall: “I know this is all too gushy. Whatever, congratulations."
-- David R. Stampone
[In news-item associated preview of San Diego, CA, 7-9-2009 show]
“Temecula Sunrise,” eh? Listeners to this gorgeous track on Bitte Orca, the highly acclaimed month-old fifth album from Brooklyn art-rock band Dirty Projectors -- headlining at the Casbah tonight -- may wonder what it’s all about.
First of all, what it’s not: anything to do with the song of the same name by Orange County bubblegum-punk act New Years Day, appearing on NYD’s 2007 debut My Dear. Sung by Ashley Costello, that “Temecula Sunrise” actually dates back to when composer/NYD bassist Adam Lohrbach sang it fronting Home Grown, early pop-punk contemporaries of Blink-182.
“I’m aware of their song now, yeah, but wasn’t when I wrote mine,” confirmed Dirty Projectors mastermind Dave Longstreth in Pennsylvania last month, cooling off after his band’s first show of their current tour. (They narrowly escaped serious injury the next week when a highway collision flipped their van outside Detroit.)
So ... any substantial Eagles tie-in, as the title evokes their 1973 hit “Tequila Sunrise”? (And ... remembering that idiosyncratic songwriter Longstreth composed The Getty Address, a 2005 concept album involving the Eagles, Aztec mythology and the 9/11 aftermath -- complete with a letter from the singer-guitarist to Don Henley in the liners.)
Amber Coffman, the former member of San Diego’s Sleeping People who moved to New York to play guitar and sing in Dirty Projectors, explained to the Seattle Times last week: "The song is kind of about those Southern California subdivisions ... being abandoned and foreclosed, turning into these thriving, artsy, bohemian communities ... The idea is just a bunch of kids take over a house and paint it and do all these crazy things in the neighborhood."
“I first became aware of Temecula, the town, when we were on tour in 2006 on the west coast,” concluded Longstreth, who has collaborated with DP booster David Byrne this year and wrote a seven-song suite for band-fan Bjork and the Projectors to perform together at a NYC benefit in May. In 2006, the group also included Coffman’s friend Susanna Waiche, a long-time San Diego-based indie musician who has played with the Album Leaf, Black Heart Procession, Castanets and many more.
“As we were going by Temecula, we could see all these hills full of housing. Gross. Susanna explained that those hills were once open spaces and that, in fact, years ago, she and her grandfather loved to hike all over out there in the springtime when everything was in bloom -- that it was beautiful.”