Some musicians are content to play the game by the rules. Others write their own rulebook while they're playing, rip it up, and start all over again. Dave Longstreth, mastermind of the Brooklyn, New York-based rock collective known as Dirty Projectors, falls into the latter camp. Bitte Orca, the Projectors' latest and fourth full-length release, has received almost universal critical acclaim and secured a spot on in the top half of The Billboard 200 between the latest releases by Busta Rhymes and Seal. Check out the band's just-released video for "Stillness Is The Move," an exquisite track from Bitte Orca.
To fully appreciate the madness that is Dirty Projectors, one must take a look back to their discography of mind-blowing concept pieces. Take the Getty Address for example. This 2005 concept album explored the world of the Eagles Don Henley backed with lush orchestral and choral soundscapes. Remember, Mojo Nixon could merely muster one simple trash-rocker unimaginatively titled "Don Henley Must Die." If a musical opus based on an Eagle wasn't enough, in 2007 Longstreth and company reimagined Black Flag's 1981 full-length debut Damaged, not as a parody, but through the filter of world music, throwing in the Afro-pop influences the Projectors explored on its 2006 release, the New Attitude EP. Speaking of Afro-pop influences, the Projectors' ever-evolving lineup at one time included Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig on Rhodes and saxophone. Check out the Projectors performing "Rise Above" back in 2007. I think ol' Hank Rollins would dig this.
Apart from making their own arresting music and paying homage to others, Dirty Projectors has spent some time hooking up with their heroes lately. Earlier this year, the band joined forces with former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne on the song "Knotty Pine" for the benefit album Dark Was The Night. In early May, the Projectors performed the track live with Byrne along with another song titled "Ambulance Man" in a special Dark Was The Night Live show at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Check out "Knotty Pine" below.
A few days later, Longstreth and company hooked up with another musical hero, Björk, in another benefit performance. This one benefited Housing Works, an organization that offers support to those individuals suffering from the one-two punch of AIDS and homelessness. Good music for a good cause. Check out this clip of Dirty Projectors performing with Björk below, pick up Dirty Projectors' latest, look for them on tour, and think about supporting the causes the band supports. All are worthwhile.