Dirty Projectors have always come across as more of an experiment than a traditional band. Between their 2003 debut The Glad Fact and 2009′s landmark Bitte Orca, singer/songwriter David Longstreth and his collaborators treated each album as an opportunity to explore new, uncharted sonic territory. Like scientists of sound, they drew from such diverse palates as African drumming patterns and R&B vocal runs to create their unique and intellectual compositions. Dirty Projectors seemed inventive, but their uniqueness also lent itself to an air of pretension.
After listening to Swing Lo Magellan (Domino; 2012), Dirty Projectors’ latest release, I was thrilled to discover that David Longstreth has finally relaxed. Both lyrically and sonically, this is the simplest record that the group has ever produced. The sparse arrangements, distinctive vocals and full harmonies are refreshing, yet they feel more comforting than Bitte Orca did three years ago. If that album was a wave, then Swing Lo is a breeze. Gentler, warmer and ultimately, more rewarding.
In a recent interview with Pitchfork‘s Jenn Pelly, Beach House multi-instrumentalist Alex Scally revealed his frustration with the changing ways in which we listen to music:
“A lot of people listening to music now don’t listen to the songs or lyrics at all. They just go, “Good tones…” and that’s it. But we’re obsessed with songs. Sometimes, I feel like people aren’t listening to our songs, they’re just listening to the sound. “
Scally’s chagrin can be viewed as a gripe with twenty-first century music as a whole. In an age where music is both easily accessible and easily dismissed, the dual arts of album structure and song writing have been lost amongst many artists. Taking this into consideration, Beach House, a Baltimore-based dream pop duo, can be seen as traditionalists in the world of modern indie music. Over the course of four albums, including 2010′s sonic opus Teen Dream, the Beach House sound has remained steady, slowly improving with thoughtful refinements.
Rich Aucoin, a beloved Canadian indie-pop artist, has started to make his mark on America.
Pop music and icebergs have a lot in common. They each have a pronounced, visible tip, and a large, often invisible body. The two parts are essentially the same – they’re both part of the same massive chunk of ice, after all – but there is a large element separating the top from the overshadowed body: the ocean. If the ocean represents mainstream commercial success, then Icelandic sextet Of Monsters and Men‘s debut full-length, My Head is an Animal, sits just under sea level.