The Madeleine Brand Show

The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Madeleine Brand

New Music Tuesday: Dirty Projectors' 'Swing Lo Magellan'

by Drew Tewksbury | The Madeleine Brand Show

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Musicians Nat Baldwin (L) and Dave Longstreth from the band Dirty Projectors perform during day two of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2010 held at the Empire Polo Club on April 17, 2010 in Indio, California. Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

Music critic Drew Tewksbury is back for another installment of New Music Tuesday. This week, he reviews the album "Swing Lo Magellan" from Dirty Projectors.

Dirty Projectors re-envision how soul music works in the 21st century on their new album, "Swing Lo Magellan."

It’s soulful folk peppered with the occasional rockout. But tying it all together is the bold and outlandish voice of bandleader David Longstreth. Longstreth performs some wacky guitar work too ... think Frank Zappa or Brian Eno. He uses the instrument as an extension of his otherworldly voice.

Alongside Longstreth’s warbling tones is the floating voice of Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian. They create a haunting canvas for his expressionist vocal experiments.

Dirty Projectors latest album is a departure from their past records. Their 2009 album, "Bitte Orca," was all over the place, with instruments pulling in different directions that made the music feel like it was coming apart at the seams. And that last effort was a critical favorite, but in reality, it wasn’t very listenable.

But the songs on this latest album are tightly wound grooves without excess instrumentation getting in the way. These aren't pop songs, but they are seriously catchy.

The rhythm section grounds the airy vocals of Longstreth and Derradoorian, creating a solid base that keeps these light songs from flying away. Dirty Projectors take a lot of chances, but on "Swing Lo Magellan," it all pays off.

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