Dirty Projectors at Mr. Smalls

Published On July 5, 2012 | By Isaac Kozell | Music

The music of Dirty Projectors – who will be hitting the stage at Mr. Smalls on Wednesday, July 11th – escapes classification. Countless magazines, blogs and critics have compared them to artists like Talking Heads, Prince, Fela Kuti and Beyonce’. And sure, those are appropriate parallels to draw. But Dirty Projectors have a way of becoming greater than the sum of their influences. Their product is too big to be labeled “Indie,” too complex to be labeled “Pop” and too diverse to be labeled “Rock.” On the surface, that may give the impression that Dirty Projectors create music that would only be appreciated by pretentious, artsy music snobs. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Formed in 2003 by singer and guitarist Dave Longstreth, Dirty Projectors have released five full length albums, a handful of EPs, along with collaborations with both Bjork and David Byrne. They set out to achieve left field, lofty goals, like releasing a Don Henley inspired concept album and re-imagining Black Flag’s masterpiece, Rise Above, from memory. Despite being accomplished musicians, Dirty Projectors goal, as described by Longstreth, “is to maintain the spirit of an amateur, someone who is doing it for a love rather than out of a sense of expertise.”

The current incarnation of the band is a five-piece outfit consisting of Longstreth, Amber Coffman (vocals/guitar), Mike Johnson (drums), Nat Baldwin (bass) and Haley Dekle (vocals). One of Dirty Projectors’ most defining attributes is the beauty of its harmonizing female vocals, which can be heard in full glory on the 2009 single “Stillness Is the Move.”

This month marks the release of Dirty Projectors’ latest full-length album, Swing Low Magellan. Recorded without longtime member Angel Deradoorian, who is on hiatus from the band, the album is beat heavy and direct, a slight departure from Dirty Projectors traditional mode of operation. If the first single, “Gun Has No Trigger,” is any indication, this album is staged to lift Dirty Projectors to a new personal best.

Pittsburgh fans will be the some the first in the world to hear the new songs from Swing Low Magellan performed live, as Dirty Projectors play Mr. Smalls on Wednesday, July 11th, for an 8 p.m. show with opening act, indie electronic duo, Purity Ring.

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