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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Dirty Projectors
Bitte Orca
Domino

Rating: 8.6/10 ?


June 23, 2009
I first encountered Dirty Projectors as Grizzly Bear's opening act, here in Chicago, in early 2007 and everything about their performance struck me as exciting and new without straying too far from the familiar to get there (very different from the disjointed freak-folk I expected after The Getty Address). The off-kilter (but perfectly so) harmonies of Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian, like two deranged Beach Boys fanatics anchoring either wing of the stage was akin to hearing "yeah, yeah, yeah" in a pop song; so deceptively simple and memorable anyone could have come up with it, but just clever enough that it takes someone as unique as main Projector Dave Longstreth to come up with it. I've heard this feel described as "bent," as though there was tampering or pitch-modifying involved, but hearing it first in a live setting, it sounds almost exactly the same straight from the mouth, just one of many interesting tricks displayed on Bitte Orca.

Expectant fans that latched onto Rise Above upon release seemed to be anticipating Orca cautiously; Rise Above, for all its strengths and ingenuity, could also have been a brilliant marketing ploy, the sort of which Malcolm Gladwell, in his book The Tipping Point describes as the "sticky factor." Every bit of press, no matter how skeptical, stuck with fans and non-fans alike: the gimmick of "recreating" Black Flag's Damaged from memory using only the original lyrics made it tough to say what the new release of completely original songs would bring to the table. I personally found myself wondering if this release would establish the band once and for all as top-tier art-popsters rather than gimmick peddlers.

The answer to an expecting fan is yes. Longstreth is clearly a man who doesn't discriminate between the myriad of sounds that inform his work. The much-ballyhooed "Stillness is the Move" sounds like the base of an M.I.A. song with a pop diva singing over it. "The Bride" moves from a carefully picked acoustic to a Led Zeppelin III style acoustic stomp to a rocker in just 2:49. "Useful Chamber" further branches out from the root of "Stillness" (beat-boxed rhythms, exotic vocals, synth-infused everything) and by the time the album closes you've heard Nick Drake-quality acoustic numbers ("Two Doves") and chaotic (but never sloppy) guitar workouts ("Cannibal Resource," "Useful Chamber"), all of them held down by the hypnotic supporting harmonies of Coffman and Deradoorian.

I was almost exhausted by all the different directions this album pulls itself in to a surprising degree of success. Initially, it's the acoustic and conventional songs that suffer, if only because they lack the same sense of exploratory excitement found in the album's more radical numbers.

Bitte Orca signifies something exciting and all too infrequent in popular music: striving for a sound that doesn't have a definite audience. If this never breaks the band into larger pursuits (the x-factor being Longstreth's love-it-or-hate-it voice), this is a miniature masterpiece that exists just perfectly in the unpredictable and exciting universe it's created for itself.


Reviewed by Cory Tendering
No biographical information is currently available.

See other reviews by Cory Tendering

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