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Last night, the indie rock group Dirty Projectors played a remarkable set to a sold out crowd at the Paradise Rock Club. WERS was lucky to have their frontman David Longstreth stop by to play an intimate, acoustic performance of some of the group’s songs. While their genre may be hard to pin down (if anything, experimental pop might be the most accurate), identifying Longstreth’s talent certainly is not. Serving as the main writer, vocalist, guitarist, and producer of a number of their songs, Longstreth continues to show an open-minded taste that allows for extra legroom in their sound - Swing Lo Magellan is more poppy and easy on the ears than the grittiness of 2003′s The Glad Fact or 2009′s electronic and somewhat math rock Bitte Orca.
“Every Dirty Projectors record is a different proposition. This one is about the songwriting,” he said. The Dirty Projectors rented a house in upstate New York (which Longstreth described as being in “basically the middle of nowhere”) and wrote and recorded in a “pretty casual way.” Unlike artists’ regular recording sessions, they wound up with 80 written songs, 40 of which they actually recorded; “We took it Quiny Jones style and edited it down],” he laughed.
Longstreth began with “Dance For You” off of their new album. While the song is relatively quiet and simple on the record, he turned it into more of a happy song to wake up to. The acoustic guitar changed it to sound like something he was widdling away in his bedroom. His vocals bounced between soft lines to more jagged tones as he hit higher notes, all part of the Dirty Projectors recognizable sound.
The second and final track Longstreth played was the title-track off the new album. With the gentle plucking of his acoustic guitar, the song transformed from being a slower melody to one that could easily be in its beginning form back when he wrote the songs in that very cabin. The song held it’s slow tempo but had a warmer sound – a result of swapping an electric guitar for an acoustic one – that carried a certain charm with it.”When it comes to songwriting, I write every part, so that’s much more solitary,” Longstreth later explained. It’s this intimacy from writing the material secluded that is evident when he performed their songs solo for us.
In support of their new album, the Dirty Projectors are also putting out a short film called Hi Custodian, which Longstreth directed. “It was so much fun. We made it really quickly, just over the course of about five days in southern California and all of those days went by fast with just working and shooting with as much of the natural light as we could,” he said. “The weird thing about directing is just how insanely collborative it is… how many conversations you have.” The final product will be released very soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
Even though the set was short, David Longstreth’s in-studio performance gave a unique look into how the backbones of the Swing Lo Magellan tracks were written. Make sure to check out Swing Lo Magellan if you haven’t already (it’s out now at your local record store) and tune in to hear more from David Longstreth and the Dirty Projectors on WERS.