40.) Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca (2009)
Full disclosure here - up until this year, I had heard a lot more about The Dirty Projectors than I did any of their actual music. For music geeks and rock blog trollers like myself The Dirty Projectors have certainly been on the radar for a better part of the decade. For me, however, they became a band I was defiantly not pursuing. It was an act of pretension masked as an act of battling perceived pretension, if that makes sense. But hey, at least I can admit it.
But, their glowing write-ups were insufferable for quite a while. Young Brooklyn hipsters. Ugh. Artsy, disjointed and playing with sounds. No thanks. Then they went and released their own re-worked version of Black Flag's classic Damaged. Absolutely not. Spoiled art school kids are going to come in here and cover one of the greatest statements of suburban anger and aggression? I don't think so.
But despite everything, I caved when Bitte Orca was released. I succumbed to the glowing reviews and all the hype and I bought it and you know what? I fucking love it. I even think the band comes off charming. I like them. They're okay as far as I'm concerned. This does not mean I'm going to listen to their Damaged. Never. And I'm not going into the back catalog either because I still think it's going to be too art-school pretentious for my taste. But, Bitte Orca, while not completely pretension free, is a lovely little record and it's just the right amount of weird for me.
What really strikes me when listening to Bitte Orca is it's not your typical indie rock record. Not by a long shot. Sure there are guitars here but a lot of these songs are R&B joints, fam. "Useful Chamber" sounds like an off-kilter auto-tuned slow jam for the first two minutes (then the guitars kick in and it becomes a tolerable and rowdy mess - but still) and one of the record's many highlights, "Stillness Is The Move", could have been a Beyonce song. Not a Beyonce single, but certainly a Beyonce song. In fact, her sister Solange covers the damn thing and it kind of kills. Then there's "Two Doves", which sounds like something Rufus Wainwright would have recorded when he was fucking flawless in the late 90's, so you win Dirty Projectors.
More than any of that, though, Bitte Orca's a fun record. I think. I guess I've been proven wrong. Maybe The Kids Are Alright after all.
Posted by Pat Driscoll