Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Today’s selection comes from 2009 from a band that once released a concept album about Don Henley…yes that Don Henley.  This, this is not that album…

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Dirty+Projectors+Bitte+Orca/68679260

Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitte_Orca

One year ago: The RC listened to Oasis “What’s the Story Morning Glory?”

Fun Facts:  In addition to a concept album about Don Henley, the band also released an album of Black Flag songs “reimagined”.


Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

Preconceptions: I have no idea what this is. I’m guessing it’s euro-electronica. Or maybe it’s like the Shins or New Pornographers. Let’s fire this up and see how wrong I am.

Mood: A life of meh. Better than meth, but still moderately disappointing.

After Listening: Uh… I have no idea if the first track was supposed to drop out multiple times within the first 20 seconds. The songs were the equivalent of an auditory attack. I seriously felt like Sinister sent Vertigo to mess with my head.

I found myself desperately hoping that they would find a tempo to cling to. While I appreciate an occasional tempo change, I don’t think consistently shifting from tempo is comforting at all. Especially when it’s something they do in every song. I became incredibly anxious while listening.

It just felt like noise for the sake of noise. I had to stop after the third track because it felt like the room was shrinking.

Overall (1-5 stars):  0. I have never given a zero before. I… I… I honestly feel like I’m going to vomit.

After her review, there was a discussion as to whether or not she could give an album a zero.

Mike: To the best of my knowledge no one has given a 0.  We didn’t let CGR do it, did we? Might be more appropriate to file an “inc”
Seth: I think a “0” is valid, if she is confident she’ll not hear a worse album in the future. It’s a big commitment but she’s free to make it.
Mike: I mean do what you want…but openly admitting you listened to less than 3 songs leaves a lot of unknown.
Ali: The only time I have felt more claustrophobic was when I was reading House of Leaves. But if you want this to be an incomplete, that’s fine. I’m never listening to this group ever again.
Josh: I kinda wanted to shut it off after the first few tracks too if that makes any difference. It gets better. Maybe you’re also suffering catch up burnout.
Mike: My point of the inc wasn’t to get anyone to change their opinion about a band.  So you never listening to that again is perfectly fine. It’s just when you admit you didn’t listen to the whole thing- I don’t think we should score it.  Just my opinion.
Ali: Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bothered by your opinion. It just seems like the score not being altered by someone who had an absolute reaction to the music feels a little bit like bowling with bumpers.

Updated Overall: *incomplete*


Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca: 3.5 stars

Precon: This is my curiosity pick. Chris sent out a weirdly interesting song that put them on my radar a while back, and then I heard them on the Dark Was the Night compilation. They’re kind of odd. Not quite sure what to expect on a whole album.

Favorite Track: Stillness is the Move for familiarity, Useful Chamber for schizophrenia
Least Favorite: Temecula Sunrise

The guy sings more than I thought he would. His falsetto is pretty annoying. I feel like I should be annoyed by the girls too, but they go right up to the edge of the cliff and don’t drive off.
Stillness is the Move is the one I heard before. I think this could have been a pop hit in like 93.
These guys are a little pretentious, and this album leaves me wanting a more traditional (or maybe just familiar) song structure, but I appreciate the creativity. I think both girls are good singers. The guy has his moments. As far as instrumentation goes, they throw a lot of stuff out there. I’m not really sure what the philosophy is or if they know. It’s tough, I don’t want to hate on something because I don’t get it, but I also don’t want to give credit where it’s not deserved. So…I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt for the most part. They do some interesting things, and I think some of these songs will grow on me.

Magic the Gathering Card: Killer Whale


Dirty Projectors- Bitte Orca

Preconceived Notions- “indie” for all the good that category assignment does.  I’m pretty sure I used to get (and sometimes still do get) these guys confused with New Pornographers.  Sometimes in my head they form a super group called Dirty Pornographers.

I wasn’t really paying that much to most of this album until “Two Doves” came on.  Yes, I’m that sucker born every minute.  I made peace with it a long time ago, probably around the time that I continually dialed Ticketmaster to get NSYNC tickets.  It’s probably just the string section, as usual, on this song, but I’ll be listening to this one a bunch in the future.

That musical interlude at the end of “Useful Chamber” just feels wasteful and indulgent.

I feel like this is the album that you would hear if you gave sent a schizophrenic beat poet on an acid trip and all they had to listen to on the journey was Vampire Weekend.

After Listening:  Well, a good chunk of that was ridiculous.  I didn’t hate the music aspect so much as I did the vocal/lyrics.  The guy was not my favorite, the girl (whichever one sang Two Doves) was much more pleasant, and didn’t make me feel like my brain was on a tilt-a-whirl.  The lyrics are artsy for artsy sake, with not enough discernible meaning for me.  I’m not saying that songs HAVE to be simplistic, and I like the poetic nature of lyrics, sometimes, but not every song and not when it just seems like you’re coming up with the oddest phrases you can and then stringing them together.  This is performance art.  I mean let’s face it, when you say that one of your songs is influenced by “Wings of Desire” (which I’ll freely admit to seeing and enjoying, although not enthusiastically) you’re not aiming to appeal to the widest audience, you’ve got a niche, and its elitist hipsters, the skinniest of skinny jeans.  Still I legitimately really loved one of the songs, so looks like I’m shopping at American Apparel this afternoon!

Favorite Track: Two Doves
Least Favorite: Useful Chamber, it just goes on for so long and has so much added at the end that it’s like the audible equivalent of ratatouille.

Overall: 3.2


Preconceived Notions:  I had never heard of them before putting the playlist together, and then when I did I caught a quote from the lead singer where he went a little out of his way to slam Frank Zappa…..so we are definitely not starting in a good place.

After Listening: I could see where this dude would get offended at being compared to Zappa, I mean their music is really nothing alike….Frank’s is good you see and well….ok, ok let’s not go there directly…yet. To begin with, this album feels like an attempt to shoehorn in art rock elements over a deceptively accessible base-and really, Dirty Projectors make their avant garde statement largely in a rhythmic fashion.  If you strip away the offbeat accents and the migrating time signatures, you get something fairly melodic – if not terribly interesting.  There are some nice guitar work moments on this record, and usually the band is intelligent enough to let them shine through whatever else is happening around them.  The lyrics however, do not share this redeeming quality, and are pretty vague and forgettable on most tracks.  There’s nothing wrong with the actual vocal delivery on the record, but aside from some nice moments when there’s a chorus to play off the main voice…they are standard or worse.  Although, there is what could be considered by some a heavy dose of falsetto – it only really pokes out and annoys you intermittedly.

Favorite Tracks:  Useful Chamber – this has some of that main vocal/backing chorus interplay I mentioned above.  It also has some wonderfully dissonant guitar riffing in the middle of the piece.  The lyrics are nonsense and the song is probably about 2mins too long, but it’s not a terrible effort.

Fluorescent Half Dome – It just doesn’t feel like it belongs on this record, and that in itself is a weird dissonance with the rest of the album that could be its own “art”.   In any case it sounds like a bizarre 80’s ballad track- that was left on the cutting room floor because the drums were recorded too loud, and the singer hit way too many flat notes to correct by “punching in”.

Cannibal Resource – I hate to break it to this dude…but the vocal patterns here are very, very Mothers of Invention with good old Frank Zappa.  They are melodic at 1st and devolve when held into briefly uncomfortable incongruity. Behind everything is a beat so stagnant that it serves the purpose of keeping the focus on the chaos – the very bright then provides sharp releases from this queasiness all to great effect.

Least Favorite:  Temecula Sunrise –  Any promise Cannibal, set up was nearly immediately set back, I say “nearly immediately” – b/c on the intro to this track there is some very nice acoustic guitar appropriately sloppy and wandering.  However, by the time the song really gets underway we are treated to what mars a lot of the album.  We get essentially a basic song with the off beat rhythms “forced” in, to add an element of discomfort that seems to have no bearing in the natural evolution of the track.  It almost seems these dudes are trolling their own song.

The Bride – A rather dull song, whose only standout quality is its falsetto delivery, and that only stands out because of how terrible it is.

Overall 2.9736 Aside from the three I listed in favorites, this album doesn’t offer a lot of standout moments.  I am sort of interested in their other material now, because that stuff is considered more experimental.  I know, I know you think I’m type cast…but the truth is, it’s the experiential art rock elements of this record that sink it for me.  I only want to check out their more experimental stuff b/c I think maybe that will be more thought out and genuine.  This record’s main flaw-nearly completely fatal flaw, is that it’s some weird hybrid of avant garde, and pop sensibility.  Done by a different band, or approached differently maybe this would work…but they seem to force a ton of things on here – and the end result is something less than it could have been.  I’m giving the record more points than normal b/c I think maybe this band can do more, and the traces of it on here are not entirely worthless.  But yeah, there’s a lot of crap here too.


Preconceptions: Is this another indie hiphop group? Yawn.

After Listening: Nope, nothing that interesting.

Nein Danke, Narwhal: Asking me to pick my least favorite song on this album is like asking a father to pick his least favorite child. Assuming all his children are screaming about nonsense and have diapers full of crap.

Overall: Ever feel obligated to listen to your friend’s crappy poetry, then have to find nice things to say about it? Imagine those poems sung in squeaky falsettos with a hundred and fifty seven layers of superfluous keyboards, strings, and percussion. Now get the hipsterati to declare it a bold work of genius, name it after a marine mammal and cash the checks. The Dirty Projectors have taken Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound concept and added the word “Annoying” into the mix. I understand music should make you feel emotions but this record gives me nothing that I can’t get from chewing a big ball of aluminum foil. From the overbearing “background” vocals in Cannibal Resource to the five minutes of hooting in Fluorescent Half Dome, Bitte bites.

Rating: 1.1
Prelisten Guess: 3.0

admin (196 Posts)

Record Club began in the cold, dank, snowmageddon scene that was New England of January 2011. We’re probably no different than you. We all work in cubicles, some in smaller, less private cubicles than others; that just means we have to be even sneakier about how we listen to our music. But we have to listen to our music, mostly as a way of saving our own personal sanity. Sometimes our opinions lead us to debates that may or may not be published in their entirety on this site, but I can promise you’ll at least get a glimpse of the way our minds work. The main goal is to find new music we like or find old music that we didn’t know we liked. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes it’s a total and complete disaster. After our ears have rejoiced or stopped bleeding we try something else. This is our pattern, every Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes, when the club isn’t officially in session, just to keep everyone on their toes, we throw in a theme day. We’re beginning to run low on our original list, so please, if you have albums that you’d like us to review or themes that you’d like to see our playlist of, feel free to contribute. After all, we’re all in this together once we punch the time clock. So if you’re busy (or just plain bored) lurking in your cubicle as you read this join in. After all, life wasn’t meant to be lived staring at a computer screen. I guarantee you, it’s at least more fun when you plug the headphones in.

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