Favorites 2012: Swing for the fences
For as much as I enjoy the format of the previous posts whereby I was able to take the time to gather my thoughts on the topics, I am more interested in actually completing the “favorite’s of 2012” before 2013. Though, technically it’s possible something amazing happens before the clock strikes for the new year and could be argued that it’s prudent to wait until then to be able to get the full variance of “things”.
On that note below you’ll find a more compacted version of my thoughts on my favorite albums from the last year … (editor’s note … this didn’t happen, see the rest in 2013)
The Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan – remember my first post where I exonerated myself from using terms like “top” or “best” … well it was mainly this album that was in mind when I said it. SWL was probably the album I listened to the most this year. I think every song on this album is great. Sometimes people say that, here’s proof I mean it.
1. Offspring Are Blank – great opening track. This track sounds like a it could have fit perfectly on previous DP albums combining what I would describe the holy trinity of a Longstreth song. . 1. Multi part harmony 2. Transition from vocal/acoustic to a rock heavy break down 3. Clapping. After hearing this song for the first time ( a day prior to the show in toronto) I accurately surmised that this would be a great song to open the show with … rock
2. Afraid to Die – This track got caught in my head the longest of any track on the album. Mostly because I loved singing along and attempting to mimic the vocal inflections used. The chorus is just fucking fun to try and copy. “Redacted” now among my favorite words all time. There’s a weird tempo shift in the way the words are sang, for whatever reason, it just fascinates me. Like a waterfall when “foolish i know, but i’m about to die …” just a fun cool song.
3. Gun Has No Trigger – The album’s first single. Also the first song I had heard from the album. a lot of the talk was about how Dirtiest Projector, Dave Longstreth had pared down his schizophrenic composition style. Concerns of a dulled down DP album were assuaged as this track helped me keep the faith. Also there is just a straight up dirty (no pun intended) bass line in this song.
4. Swing Lo Magellan – One commonality about my favorite albums is that my favorite tracks tend to change over time. Right now this is my favorite song. This might be the type of track that was in mind when talking about how the band had taken a more simplistic approach. However, listening to the acoustic strum it’s evident that just because it’s not as in your face does not necessarily detract from complexity. Also, siiiiick bass line. And in general I just like the message of the lyrics. Kind of a beautiful song.
5. Just From Chevron – The female vocals given the lead mostly on this album. Again, classic complex guitar strum, heavy harmonies, clapping … but not typical by any means. This song is I think getting a lot of attention as a standout. Deservedly so. I great example of how DP hasn’t lost anything by writing softer, more accessible songs. And if anything, perhaps making that transition to a more well rounded outfit.
Detour – This album brings back a lot of the same thoughts I had about The National’s album High Violet. It was like somehow the band took all the shit they experiemented with other albums and tossed that aside. Took everything they liked about their old stuff and just focused on making the best “them” songs they could. And what comes out is just the most absolutely solid album. Flawless is a bit much to say. But there’s really not a song on either album that a fan of the band could say they were disappointed by. This is an album for fans of this band.
6. Dance For You – I love the little drum tip in this song. I don’t have much to say because it is not the album’s strongest song, yet I couldn’t say that it was weak or bad. A fine song by any means. I think the lyrics are more introspective or personal than older DP songs, but I don’t personally find this song to be all that interesting based on the subject’s revealing nature.
7. Maybe That Was It – My “first” favorite song. I fucking wigged out on this song. Love everything about this. Was pretentiously upset at anyone who dared say the group had lost it’s edge. I love the lead guitar part and how it almost sounds like it’s being tuned down mid song. This song is trippy and weird and I think is the band’s signature track to say …”we do weird well still .. fear not”.
8. Impregnable Question – Another “personal” track. Another example of the band taking the drawn down approach to song writing. Another nasty bass part. Another great song to try and mimic Longstreth’s vocal inflections … so much fun to sing along to.
9. See What She Seeing – Now this track is an old school DP song. Weird tempos. Wicked female harmony part. This song couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else. You’re not going to listen to this at the gym. You’re not going to play this to woo a potential interest. But you’re sure as shit not skipping over this. This song is so good for reasons too difficult for me to put into words. LISTEN!!
10. The Socialites – This song is carried by female vocalist Amber Coffman. Perhaps fans might think they’d miss Angel Deradoorian’s angelic (pun intended) assistance, but this track’s place among the album’s strongest proves that the group’s talent level does not reside on one or two members. For sure this track is one of the best even sans the elevator-esque throat quivering of Longstreth. This song is catchy, beautiful, it’s got a fucking sweet atari electronic synth … nothing more you can ask for.
11. Unto Caesar – So basically the back end of this album turns is where you separate good albums from great. And Unto Caesar does it’s job pushing this from great to being a ‘classic’. Every time I listen to this song I picture the group standing in a studi0 trying to mix this track and just not giving a fuck about perfection, just having fun. The motivation to keep the weird background “umm, what you just said doesn’t make any sense” type comments throughout the finished track just works for me. It elicits this sense of fun and freedom in making this album, which makes my enjoyment of it overall more fun and free. there’s yelping, clapping, laughing, vocal harmonies that don’t match up, random thoughts … this is a free form jam, and every time i hear it I think maybe this is my favorite song.
12. Irresponsible Tune – A soft outro to take the listener home. Whereas Unto Caesor evokes a sense of community this track sounds like Longstreth alone on a stool strumming and singing to no one in particular. Beautiful, simply, makes you want to flip the record over and start over every time.