Monday, May 3, 2010

What we're listening to: Bitte Orca by the Dirty Projectors

This album by Brooklyn-based art rockers the Dirty Projectors topped my list of albums released last year. I have been a fan of the Dirty Projectors for a while, but always found their albums to be somewhat hit and miss. The band's mastermind Dave Longstreth is a classically trained musician and enjoys playing around with different sounds and concepts. Previous albums by the band include the Don Henley-themed the Getty Address and Rise Above a re-imagining of the classic Black Flag album Damaged. Longstreth's sonic inventiveness doesn't always translate into an enjoyable listening experience, but his best work is transcendent. Bitte Orca is the Dirty Projectors' finest and most accessible album. It's a thoroughly enjoyable pop album enhanced by the band's clever experimentation.

The album spans several different genres from R and B/ pop(the Wings of Desire-inspired "Stillness is the Move") to psychedelic rock ("Useful Chamber") to pop balladry ("No Intention"), but Longstreth puts distinctive spins on each of the styles. The Dirty Projectors definitely have an offbeat sound that I would describe as melodically spastic. Dave Longstreth has an eccentric voice- a warbly falsetto reminiscent of Arthur Russell or Jeff Buckley. Band mates Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian have more conventional and skilled voices. Both girls are given opportunities to shine on this record. Amber proves herself to be the indie rock equivalent of Beyonce on "Stillness is the Move," while Angel's soft, smoky vocals stand out on the Nico-esque folk ballad "Two Doves." Bitte Orca has a layered, glitch-y, art rock sound with world music influences that will appeal to music geeks. However, you don't have to work at Championship Vinyl to enjoy this album. Regular listeners will enjoy Bitte Orca's catchy pop hooks and rocking guitar work.

Stand out tracks: The entire six song run from "Temecula Sunrise" to "No Intentions" is amazing, especially the rock epic and semi-title track, "Useful Chamber."

Recommended for fans of: Talking Heads, Yeasayer, the Microphones, Vampire Weekend, and Animal Collective.

Find it in the catalog!