The Dirty Projectors and Wye Oak at Showbox 7/23Posted by Adam Barnett
The Dirty Projectors mastered the art of packaging complexity and packing it into perfectly-crafted pop songs. This first became apparent on 2009’s critically acclaimed Bitte Orca, an amalgamation of polyrhythm, some incredibly unpredictable melodies with equally intriguing vocal play and the pop structure that led to the accessibility of these previously-held attributes. Where the overt artsy-ness of the band’s previous efforts might have seemed off-putting to some in the past – Rise Above was incredibly well-received, but some people might be lost as to why exactly someone would reinterpret a record he hadn’t listened to in 15 years – Bitte Orca put everything into a marketable package. Though, this didn’t dumb anything down, as seems consistent with increased accessibility of an artist. The added pop element seemed to add another layer of complexity to The Dirty Projectors, crucial to their rise as a staple in modern independent music.
Three years later, the band is on its sixth studio LP Swing Lo Magellan, a clear continuation of where Bitte Orca left off. In an interview with Pitchfork, frontman and multi-instrumentalist David Longstreth explained that Swing Lo is a much more “personal” endeavor, made up of individual of songs that don’t align themselves to a single, overarching theme. It’s intentionally raw like “unbleached f*cking leather,” which is clear on songs like “Unto Caesar,” where Longstreth was pretty lax on his backing vocal edits. But once again, it’s all in the name of art, right? And that’s where the genius of The Dirty Projectors comes full-circle. The combination of musical artistry and pop has earned the band a very fitting “art pop” tag on its Last.fm (among the also apt “experimental” in a much bigger typeface).
The Dirty Projectors are currently on tour supporting the record with Wye Oak, a Baltimore nu-gaze duo with drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack and guitarist/vocalist Jenn Wasner.
In addition to Wasner showing up everywhere over the past year (from The Mountain Goats at Lollapalooza, to The Dirty Projectors’ performance on Fallon, to a very recent cameo with Future Islands), 2011’s Civillian made AV Club’s top album of 2011 while earning spots on several other year-end lists. Where fellow Baltimore two-piece Beach House’s music is low-key enough to expect the minimal personnel, Wye Oak’s bigness and tendency to rock as hard as humanly possible is just as surprising live as it is recorded.
The Dirty Projectors and Wye Oak perform at Showbox at The Market on Monday, July 23, which leaves quite the dilemma: The Dirty Projectors, MewithoutYou or a long night of much-needed sleep following three days of Capitol Hill Block Party?