Dirty Projectors are the kind of band that music writers drool over. Describing a band like the Dirty Projectors is a kind of challenge we’re all too eager to accept, encouraged by the unique quality of the music and our own egos, itching to be the one who “wrote it best.” It brings out hyperbolic terms destined to make music critic critics deliver tongue lashings of their own, no matter how hard we try and stay away from them. But how do you describe in layman’s terms that which is so far from the everyday?

Dirty Projectors: “Depression” (download)

David Longstreth was at his most Thurston Moore-looking, tall and lanky complete with bowl haircut and dark over-sized sweatshirt. He has those average 20-something indie rock looks that one in five guys in Brooklyn have – including a young man behind the counter at the Tea Lounge providing the wireless internet for this review. This somehow makes everything about the music even better. This is not an over-reaching, ostentatious attempt at stardom, this is a music nerd responding to music (in this case, Black Flag’s Damaged) the only way he knows how: with more music.

Playing to a too drunk, too obnoxious, too excited, too packed crowd in one of NYC’s most revered venues, the Dirty Projectors were not trying to be perfect, and didn’t have to be – they sounded better flawed, and everyone ate it up all the more. Longstreth pushed the limits of the range of his voice at little too far – see “Police Story” – which wouldn’t have flown had it been anyone else. But when his voice screeched, his guitar spazzed out, and everything felt a little more primal, those were the times when Black Flag would have been the most proud of this interpretation. There aren’t too many of them, just enough to pay tribute to the source material, like an asterisk leading to a footnote.

Dirty Projectors: “Police Story” (download)

Something about the Dirty Projectors is even more warm and alive when they’re on the stage, which is something of a flooring statement, because Rise Above is one of the most warm and alive records you’ll find this year. But even the great can get better, and somehow it does, bringing out every dimension of each heavily layered, labyrinthine song.

It’s not that the Dirty Projectors are the beginning of a new movement in music, the second coming of the Beatles or God, or the next “indie sensation” a la Arcade Fire. It’s that, much like the artistic philosophy behind someone like Destroyer, this is the sound of someone doing their thing, their way. No editing for mass consumption, no restraint, just purity. In the process, they’ve managed to capture the very essence of memory and emotion: complex, unstable and not always accurate. If that’s not worth a bunch of fawning, starry-eyed music critics, nothing is.

Also salivated all over the Bowery’s floor:
Brooklyn Vegan

Dirty Projectors on MySpace

Image courtesy flickr user bigaila