Showing posts with label dirty projectors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dirty projectors. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

video review: 'lamp lit prose' by dirty projectors

Okay, so this was a mess... but again, I haven't seen much of a backlash yet, so this'll be interesting...

Next up... well, the record I was looking to cover I'm saving for a possible collab, and then there's a top ten list to work on, so maybe it's time to go into the backlog for what's next... stay tuned!

album review: 'lamp lit prose' by dirty projectors

So stop me if you've heard this one: a rock band breaks out in the mid-2000s, releases a critically acclaimed record in the last few years of the decade... and then abruptly, everything seems to go awry, as what many critics perceive as the greatest draw of the group depart, leaving a solo frontman who decides to double down on his own ego and talents under the band name for an increasingly pronounced pop pivot with questionable returns...

But enough about Panic! At The Disco, we're here to review Dirty Projectors, right? And the parallels aren't that exact - Dirty Projectors managed to get a second well-received record off of Bitte Orca with Swing Lo Magellan before a sizable chunk of the band quit, even if my opinions on the band remain pretty mixed to this day - but the more I thought about it the more it kind of fit in a twisted way. Hell, delve into the songwriting and it's not hard to see similarities between David Longstreth and Brendon Urie in wildly overwritten ego-driven posturing, especially in the face of Urie losing his entire band and Longstreth facing the departure of both Angel Deradoorian and Amber Coffman, whose unique harmonies would probably be highlighted as the most distinctive facet of the band to any casual fan. And then you have to look at them both doubling down on long-standing influences, with Urie focusing on musical theater and vintage pop and Longstreth stepping into a weird R&B/indie pop blend on a self-titled project that may have been passable but felt way more awkward and uncomfortable than it should have, especially in the content. But hey, now Longstreth is looking in a more positive, upbeat direction with an album cover that seems to be openly aping Bitte Orca - a loaded callback if there is one - so hopefully this would connect more strongly, right?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

album review: 'swing lo magellan' by the dirty projectors

Short version: yeah, these guys are seriously talented instrumentalists, but outside of that, there's nothing of substance good or interesting enough to justify the artifice. In other words, it's insubstantial, and outside of the great leading single, not really worth your time.

Today, we're going to talk about hipster music, and the culture that supports it.

Considering my fondness for weirdness and off-beat stuff nobody has ever heard of, one initially might make the reasonable assumption that I hold some fondness for the hipster lifestyle, that I might be one of the exotic coffee-drinking, art film-viewing, glasses-wearing, generally snobbish fellows that peruses Pitchfork and has general disdain for everything popular. Now, anybody who has read any of my reviews would know by now that's not the case, and while I can appreciate some of the art and music and films that come out of the hipster culture, I know myself well enough not to consider myself a hipster. In fact, if I'm going to be completely honest, I don't really have the highest opinion of 'hipsters' in general.

Part of it comes down to attitude, I think. There's a certain element of condescension inherent in hipster culture that comes with seemingly knowing and 'understanding' things other people don't, but here's the contradiction: for something to remain hipster-friendly, it needs to remain somewhat underground. If it becomes popular, suddenly it's not cool in the same way, unless said hipsters appreciate it 'ironically'. It comes down to not appreciating the art because it's good or profound or interesting or groundbreaking, but because the 'mainstream' hasn't discovered yet. It's the thrill of being in a secret society and the assumption that just because someone is privileged enough to have the time to go hunting for this sort of material, it makes that person better. Now granted, I get the appeal, but I've got to be honest, I'd prefer that the wider culture would embrace the art in question because it's good, and might provide a message that benefits society on a greater level. While hipster culture promotes exclusivity, I'd prefer something more inclusive, with the only barrier to entry coming in the interpretation or reflection of the artwork. 

And here's where we come to the part of things where hipsters cringe, because it's something they really don't want to admit, and that's the deeper message of most of the 'hipster culture' they admire just isn't nearly as deep as they want it to be. I think, on some level, hipsters recognize that, and thus they seek out music that's more esoteric and bizarre in aesthetic, but not really all that deep or interesting upon a closer examination. It's one of my bigger problems with Pitchfork - not that they don't do a decent job analyzing the external aesthetic and mechanics of a song (albeit all of them need to put away the damn thesaurus), but that they rarely go deeper into the message and deeper meaning of the work. 

Now, it doesn't help matters that being a hipster is becoming a 'thing', so to speak. The mainstream market was starting to realize the appeal of the hipster 'brand' as early as 1995 with the opening of RENT (likely earlier in some places), and it has reached the point that there is indeed a hipster 'brand'. For as anti-corporate as some hipsters like to think they are, they feel to realize that their lifestyles and cultural appreciation are dependent upon the corporate brands that feed them. And as ironic as that is, I can't help but feel a twinge of unease when I see the mainstream adopting some of the aesthetic of hipsters and indie rock while completely missing any substance that might be hiding inside. I've ranted about Foster The People before, how they were a band that was co-opting the hipster look and feel for their music and the attitude for the message, but the message was so insidious and phony that it felt like a self-absorbed parody in the vein of 3OH!3, but they aren't the only band that fits into the corporate co-opting of the hipster brand.

And here's the worst part - instead of fighting this by writing interesting, deeper songs, hipster music has hidden behind greater and greater artifice, perhaps to disguise the fact that they've never had anything that interesting to say in the first place. As an act, Metric's Synthetica was at least trying to make a statement, but most hipster indie rock won't even bother.

And with that, we have to talk about The Dirty Projectors, an indie rock band that's hipster through and through.