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Album Review: Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan

 
By on Monday, 9th July 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s rare that experimental music, or at least guitar-led music with such an interesting style is taken in at such a level that Dirty Projectors experienced with ‘Bitte Orca’ over 3 years ago. With a Pitchfork rating of 9.2 and a general consensus little short of impeccable, the group rose out of relative obscurity to indie champions faster than you can say ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’.

So now we’ve made it to 2012 and there’s a whole host of bands doing their best to be unique in the same way as the Brooklyn collective, which whilst in itself an ironically futile objective has produced some of the most interesting music of the last few years. Most recently for example, one of this year’s most critically acclaimed records is alt-J’s debut ‘An Awesome Wave’, which it could be argued takes plenty of influence from Dave Longstreth’s creations.

Of course, Dirty Projectors are hardly the forefathers of this sort of music, but there’s just something in the blend that makes the collective such an interesting listen time and time again. It’s within that niche that ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ falls into.  From the off there’s instantly a quality in the sound that draws you in. It’s the opening page to what sounds like a story that unfolds via so many acts that have tread a similar path. In the calmer moments you could be listening to Elbow, in the frenzied sections you could easily be listening to The Flaming Lips or David Bowie. The craft that’s gone into the all round audible feel of this record feels like a conscious decision to ignore anyone that sounds similar and to just make something that can keep a Dirty Projectors name without any contamination.

Therein lays both the genius and the problem. Whilst tracks like ‘Gun Has No Trigger’ (I dare you not to enjoy the brilliance of the vocal lines in ‘About to Die’) push the vocal strengths of Longstreth, you drift away in the middle as if you’ve heard it before; and that’s because you have. You’ve heard previous Dirty Projectors and you’ve heard all of the other bands that push for a similar sound. It’s only in tracks like ‘Unto Caesar’ where you feel that they’re aware of this and whilst they remain in their comfort zone there’s the jesting of “that doesn’t even make any sense”. It doesn’t.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_qFaFl7JVc[/youtube]

So what will you learn in the 42 minutes it takes to traverse ‘Swing Lo Magellan’? You’ll learn that they’re still the current daddies of this music and that their blend of measured insanity, expert harmonies and purely enjoyable songs that are both near impossible to recreate and simultaneously still easy to make noise along to, is still amongst the most infectious around.

8.5/10

‘Swing Lo Magellan’, the Dirty Projectors’ new album, is out today on Domino.

 

Preview: T in the Park 2010

 
By on Tuesday, 4th May 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Even with many acts still to be revealed, the lineup for Scottish festival T in the Park is looking pretty impressive.  From 9th to 11th July, 2010, thousands of punters will descend upon a disused airfield in Balado, Kinross-shire for a weekend of camping, shopping, carnival attractions and music across 7 stages.

Friday night see’s live favourite Muse headline the main stage, which will also be graced by Paloma Faith, Faithless and other artists yet to be announced. Rather disappointingly, the Radio 1/NME Stage will be headlined by American pop group Black Eyed Peas, who are, in this humble blogger’s opinion, an incredibly obnoxious band. They’ll be playing after TGTF favourites Florence and the Machine and The Temper Trap, as well as Jamie T. Another questionable choice is 3Oh!3 in King Tut’s Wah Wah Tent, though they’ll share the stage with great bands like Calvin Harris, Hot Chip, La Roux and Dirty Projectors. And finally, the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage will see Echo and the Bunnymen and TGTF favourite Delphic on Friday.

It’s a toss-up between Saturday and Sunday for which day has the best lineup this year. Rapper Eminem will make his debut T in the Park appearance as Saturday’s Main Stage headliner, marking his first festival performance since 2001. The Main Stage will also see performances by Paolo Nutini, Stereophonics, Vampire Weekend and the Proclaimers. The Radio 1/NME Stage is pretty amazing on Saturday night, with a lineup including The Prodigy, The Courteeners and Wolfmother, and King Tut’s Wah Wah Tent is looking equally fantastic. It’ll see the likes of Mumford and Sons, Rodrigo y Gabriela, We Are Scientists and Kate Nash. Other notable artists like Julian Casablancas, Laura Marling and the Middle East will be gracing the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage on Saturday.

Rockers Kasabian headline the Main Stage on Sunday, playing along with other massively popular artists like Jay-Z, Biffy Clyro, John Mayer and Dizzee Rascal. The Radio 1/NME Stage is looking good, too, with performances by Groove Armada, the Cribs, Babyshambles and Rise Against throughout the day. Some of the best up-and-coming bands of the festivals can be seen Sunday on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage, including Bombay Bicycle Club, the Drums, Yeasayer and Two Door Cinema Club.

The festival sold out within 90 minutes,  so if you don’t already have tickets, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Let us know what you think of the lineup!

Full lineup after the jump…

Continue reading Preview: T in the Park 2010

 

Preview: Glastonbury 2010

 
By on Friday, 23rd April 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

Surely I don’t need to explain to you what Glastonbury is – it’s simply LEGENDARY. Even as an American (though, admittedly, an Anglophile), every year I drool over the lineup, despair at not being able to attend and then scour the internet for pictures and videos when it’s over. Each summer, the enormous site at Worthy Farm (about a mile and a half in diameter) turns into a mini-city for the  largest greenfield festival in the world. Since the first Glasto was held 40 years ago in 1970, the festival has come to be known for its truly amazing lineup, and this year is no different.

One of the perks of being the biggest festival around is that you can get the biggest artists around. This year, the Pyramid Stage will be graced by some of the most recognizable names in music. On Friday night, Irish rockers U2 are headlining, with support from Dizzee Rascal, Vampire Weekend, Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, and Corinne Bailey Rae. Saturday night sees headliner MUSE share the stage with the likes of Scissor Sisters, Shakira and Jackson Browne. And on the final night, legend Stevie Wonder tops the bill, closing out the festival after performances from Paloma Faith, Norah Jones, Jack Johnson and guitar legend Slash.

But it’s not only the main stage that’s worth visiting. Punters will get quite a workout running between that and the other 12 stages, of which the Other Stage, the John Peel Stage and the Park Stage look the most promising. Over the course of the weekend, the Other Stage lineup reads like the index page of NME: The Flaming Lips, Florence and the Machine, La Roux, Hot Chip, Phoenix, the Courteeners, the Cribs, Kate Nash, Editors, Two Door Cinema Club, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT, We Are Scientists, Temper Trap, the Hold Steady and more.

Originally called the “New Bands Tent,” the John Peel Stage features a mix of old and new favourites. Friday night sees Groove Armada share the stage with the likes of Mumford & Sons, Ellie Goulding and Bombay Bicycle Club. Saturday night is jam-packed with bands we’ve featured here on TGTF, like the xx, Foals, Marina and the Diamonds, Delphic, Wild Beasts and Field Music. And Sunday night remains epic with sets by Ash, Julian Casablancas and the Drums.

All the way across the site, the Park Stage will play host to buzz bands like the xx, Broken Bells, the Big Pink, Midlake, Laura Marling, Stornoway, Beach House, Frankie & the Heartstrings and Dirty Projectors, ending with a headlining set by Australian electronic duo Empire of the Sun on Sunday night. And at the risk of making your heads explode by listing even more bands, at the other stages festival-goers will be treated to performances by Mos Def, Phenomenal Handclap Band, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Turin Brakes, Imelda May, DJ Fatboy Slim, Crystal Castles, Good Shoes, Fanfarlo and Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip.

If you’re not already overwhelmed by the sheer massiveness of the festival, then you can click here to view the complete lineup. But if you don’t already have tickets for the sold out spectacular, then be warned, it will turn you green with envy.

Glastonbury 2010 is completely SOLD OUT. It will be held from Wednesday, 23rd June to Sunday, 27th June 2010 at Worthy Farm, Pilton.

 

Preview: Latitude 2010

 
By on Wednesday, 7th April 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

Believe it or not, the beloved summer season is just around the corner. This usually means a lot to most people. For music and art lovers, it’s a significant time to embrace such wonderful mediums, and this year’s Latitude Festival is looking to be loveable. Now is a good time to start scrutinizing that budget of yours. Those pennies you save will indeed be worth the oozing joy you’ll feel July 15-18 at Henham Park.

Having entered its fifth season, the Latitude Festival sure knows how to pack a mighty punch. If eclectic styles have been a festival highlight in years past, than this season will go beyond satiation. Ears will be filled with wonder, eyes will be filled with curiosity and mouths will be filled with, umm… food of course.

As in years past, Latitude will take place across four stages: The Obelisk Arena, The Uncut Arena, The Sunrise Arena, and the Huw Stephens curated Lake Stage. Some wonderful elements of comedy, poetry, theatre, literature and cabaret will supply culture and enlightenment to festival goes. Perhaps the most exciting feature, however, is the excellent line-up of performing musical acts.

Do we really need to justify our excitement that Florence and The Machine will be a headliner? And how about indie “twee” (yes, sorry, it is an outdated label) Belle and Sebastian also showing up as a headliner? This will prove to be an indisputable treat, given that a new album is in the works with this Scottish band. Now, come to find out, this will all be topped off with the generally loved Vampire Weekend. Sounds like a heavenly day to me, despite what the weather forecast has in store.

The plethora of excellent music doesn’t stop there, either. Fronted by the bald headed Tim Booth, Mancunian indie heroes, James, will be making an appearance. They’ll no doubt awe festival goers with their stand by classics like “Sit Down” and “Laid” but also probably pull some new songs from one of their upcoming mini albums, The Night Before.

Several American bands will also be wowing the crowds, like the rockers from deep down in Texas, Spoon; former jazz students, Midlake; the Brooklyn-based Dirty Projectors; and the universally adored Yeasayer. I ask how could you really say nay to any of these groups? Let it be known that I’m just scratching the surface of some bands performing at Latitude, by the way. Many other spectacular bands and artists are filling the Latitude slots as I type.

As mentioned above, there are other venues of interest to behold at the three day festival. There will be poetry reading by popular authors like Wendy Cope and John Cooper, while comedians such as Ardal O’Hanlon and Emo Phillips will provide a laugh fest. Still, those interested in theatre and dance productions should take notice that productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Opera House will grace the stages with their extraordinary skill and talent.

The list of great acts, from music legends to film experts, literally go on and on. Check out the ongoing list if you’re still not convinced that Latitude will again delight just about everyone this year.

Tickets are selling out rapidly, but there are a few still on sale priced at £155 for a weekend ticket with camping.

 
 
 

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