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Archive for the ‘Dirty Projectors’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: DIRTY PROJECTORS-Tiny Desk Concert #809 (December 4, 2018).

In my head Dirty Projectors are a noisy, chaotic band who make weird songs.  But this Concert could not be further from that understanding.

The music is beautiful, the harmonies are outstanding and the instrumentation is gentle and pretty.

The blurb seems to suggest that the music is often quirky:

Dirty Projectors’ eighth album is often loving and forgiving. It’s full of the quirks of production and rhythm and rhyme that had me fall for their music when I first heard it about a dozen years ago.

and maybe some of their earlier music exaggerates the quirks.  But watching this band with their acoustic guitars and candles makes this a delightfully warm and sweet Tiny Desk.

When Dirty Projectors let us know they couldn’t make it to the band’s Tiny Desk performance until late in the day, we were sad because the clocks had recently turned back for the fall, we knew that our beautiful, natural light would be gone and it’d be dark. But with candles left over from a late-winter day performance by Rhye — and some LED panels and spots — we were set up right on time for David Longstreth to sing these words: “The sky has darkened, earth turned to hell / Some said a light got shined where darkness dwelt / So I won’t cry or collapse, overwhelmed / Time like a song just might rhyme with itself.”  What’s wonderful about this Tiny Desk Concert is watching these talented people arrange this complicated music without amplification and seeing the joy on their face when it all worked out.

The band plays three songs:

The first one, “That’s a Lifestyle” has such a delightful guitar melody.  I love it.  I also love that the three female singers sometimes harmonize, sometime follow and sometimes both.  Felicia Douglass (vocals, percussion, keys), sings “that’s a” over and over while Kristin Slipp (vocals, Rhodes, Wurlitzer), follows each instance with a series of words.  I also love that both Longstreth and Maia Friedman (vocals, guitar), are playing this wonderfully complex guitar section–while he sings leads and she contributes extra backing vocals as well.

“Right Now”  has a great middle section where Douglass sings the first “Now… Now” and then Friedman and Slipp harmonize the repeated “nows” after that.  Slipp plays an awesome little melody on the keyboard as well.  And all along there’s a rather complicated guitar going throughout.

Nat Baldwin (bass) switches between finger plucked and bowing on the upright bass to add yet more textures to the music.

“What Is The Time?” opens with a wonderfully complicated drum pattern (Mike Johnson) before settling down into more delicate folk.  There’s more gorgeous harmonies on the chorus and an amusing moment where the lyrics are “say hello” and Longstreth waves “Hey, NPR.”

All in all, this blew away all my expectations for Dirty Projectors and was a great Tiny Desk.  I’ll have to explore their music a little more.

[READ: January 18, 2017] “Spiderweb”

This is a very long story in which not a lot happens, but in which tension builds and builds between major characters.

The narrator goes to visit her aunt and uncle in Corrientes:

My aunt and my uncle were the custodians of the memory of my mother, their favorite sister, who was killed in a stupid accident when I was seventeen.

But the aunt isn’t happy about the situation: “You got married and we haven’t even met your husband!  How is that possible?  You’re hiding him from us?”  She explains: (more…)

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5dails33SOUNDTRACK: ANONYMOUS 4 and BRUCE MOLSKY-Tiny Desk Concert #428 (March 28, 2015).

anon4I first heard about Anonymous 4 way back in 1990 when they started.  I even have their debut album of lovely classical a capella.  Now, twenty-five years and twenty-one albums later they are calling it quits.

Their final album is 1865, released to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. and containing songs from that era.

They sing three songs and, unusual as far as I’m concerned, they accompanied by Bruce Molsky, who plays banjo and violin and sings on “Hard Times.”  His voice mixes very well with their higher register–and they can hit some really high notes.

It’s unexpected to hear these singers whom I associate with classical music, singing these “traditional” songs.  But they do a wonderful job.

  • Listen to the Mocking Bird (Richard Milburn, Alice Hawthorne)
  • Hard Times Come Again No More (Stephen Foster)
  • Home, Sweet Home/Polly Put The Kettle On (Henry Bishop, John Howard Payne/Trad.)

As the site explains, the group is original members Ruth Cunningham, Marsha Genensky and Susan Hellauer, plus Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek along with singer, banjo player and fiddler Bruce Molsky, who also appears on the album.

You can watch it here.

[READ: April 4, 2015] Five Dials 33 part I

This issue celebrates the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall and features illustrations by: Cari Vander Yacht.  They are cool colorful colored pencil drawings sprinkled throughout the issue.  Most of them are vaguely alien creatures sitting around, shopping, doing a head stand (or break dancing).  You know, as aliens do.

Rather than a letter from the editor, we get a link entitled What’s this issue all about?  It is a link to a Guardian article about #readwomen2014 asking Will #readwomen2014 change our sexist reading habits?  Of course, it is now 2015 and I missed the whole thing.  I wonder if it did. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DARK WAS THE NIGHT: This Disc (2009).

This compilation was released to benefit the Red Hot organization, who raises money to fight AIDS.  I’ve gotten about a half dozen or so of their compilations over the years (and was surprised to see that they have released about 2o of them!).

This collection is a two disc set of contemporary cutting edge indie rock bands.  And, when it came out it was definitely billed as a who’s who of cool.  The first disc is more or less an acoustic/folky collection of songs.  While that’s not entirely true, the discs are more or less broken down that way.  The artists include David Byrne & The Dirty Projectors, Jose Gonzales, Feist (on two tracks), Bon Iver, The National (a band I don’t know but whose song I love) and Iron & Wine.

Probably the coolest song of the disc (although not my favorite) is Kronos Quartet’s take on Blind Willie Johnson’s “Dark was the Night.”  For years, Kronos has been interpreting rock and other genre songs to fit into their string quartet style.  And this song sounds amazing.  I’ve no idea what they’re doing, but they turn their standard quartet instruments: violin, cello, etc into really cool blues sounding strings (even a slide guitar at one point).  It’s really amazing.  As I said it’s not my favorite track, but it sounds great.

The Decembersists contribute a 7 minute song (that I believe is new as I don’t recognize it).  It’s very good, but it seems like the kind of song that normally would have had a lot of effects/orchestration on it.  And this is an acoustic rendition, so it sounds more sparse than I would think.  It’s still very good though.

Finally, the disc ends with the weirdest track, an 11 minute freak out by Sufjan Stevens.  Every time you think it’s going to end, it morphs into a new instrument which continues the track.  It works well as a soundscape, although it’s a bit tedious in comparison to the rest of the disc which is largely concise acoustic gems.

Disc one is a great collection of tracks, and the overall style works well together.  It’s a very worthy collection of songs and it’s for a good cause.

[READ: December 18, 2009] Love as a Foreign Language 1

This graphic novel is the kind of great romance story that I’ve come to expect from Oni.  It is clever, it is funny, it plays games with pop culture and, of course, the writing and art are fantastic.

Joel is a Canadian living in Korea teaching English to native Koreans.  The book opens with the 4 H’s of culture shock: The honeymoon (you love the place), the horror (you hate the place), the humor (you accept the place and its flaws) and the home (you see yourself living there).  Joel is clearly in the horror stage.  He hates everything about Korea, especially the food. Joel has a few months left on his contract but he wants to get out of it and just go home. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: The Believer July/August 2008 Music Issue Compilation CD: The Volatile But Symbiotic Relationship of Mabel and Anabel (2008).

The previous Believer CD expanded the palette of music by introducing a lot of hard-edged bands.  But this CD smashes any complaints about one-dimensionality.  It is designed around a concept of “world” music which they have designated as MABEL (Musicians of American, British, or [Western] European Lineage) and ANABEL (Artists Not of American, British, or [Western] European Lineage).

The internet has introduced a huge amount of ANABEL music to MABEL musicians.  And this has led to Western musicians experimenting with very different musical styles.

The problem, such as it is, with this disc is that it is comprised almost entirely of ANABEL songs.  So, although the disc is designed to show the influences of these artists there’s not a whole lot of tracks that show the western bands using them.  (In fairness, you can only do so much with 72 minutes).  And yes, there are a number of clearly MABEL artists here: Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors.

However, as an introduction to a few cultures’ worth of music, it’s pretty great.  I admit that I don’t love every song on this disc.  But after a few listens I’ve really grown to appreciate these tracks from Iran, Jamaica (dancehall), India and Bulgaria.

Some artists that really impressed me were: Googoosh, and her traditional Iranian track from the 70s.  Enemble Pirin, a subset of the Le Mysterè des Voix Bulgares (whom I’ve liked for years).  And Beat Konducta.  It also introduced me to Aceyalone, who I’ve heard of but never listened to.  And I really enjoyed the superfast rapping in the start of Busy Signal’s track.

I wouldn’t listen to this disc a lot, but it would be fun to throw a track or two from this on a mix CD and see how well it fit.

The track listing is here.

[READ: December 15, 2009] Shenanigans

I usually really enjoy the slice of life/romancey comics from Oni Press.  But I have some major gripes with this one.

The art is pretty cool.  I’m intrigued by the fact that the pupils of the characters are white (like L i’l Orphan Annie).  I found it very disconcerting at first, but once I got used to it, I rather liked it.  And the characters were always very expressive.

It’s the story that I have a problem with. (more…)

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