Most completely terrifying stage presence (2008)

Dirty Projectors

For a music editor, one measure of a band/record/social phenomenon's cultural cachet is how frequently freelancers pitch it; by this metric, Brooklyn's Dirty Projectors are currently the hottest thing going. This is largely due to the group's fascinating new Rise Above, which boldly "recasts" Black Flag's 1981 classic Damaged—a favorite record of Projectors mastermind Dave Longstreth's youth—despite the fact that Dave hasn't heard it in years and is painting entirely from blurry teenage memory. Great story, yeah. Here's the thing: Have you seen this dude live? Shit is like The Shining in rock-band form. Flanked by the ethereal, angelic, cooing naivete of guitarist Amber Coffman and bassist Angel Deradoorian, Dave can croon like Jeff Buckley, emote like Antony, and screech like hell on stilts—a fantastic good girls/bad guy routine that splendidly serves the Projectors' thoroughly unnerving schizo-pop, an unclassifiable stew that the band's MySpace page self-identifies as "Nu-jazz/2-Step/Regional Mexican." Which is reasonable. Dave's caterwaul, in the midst of such bewildering beauty, is fantastic opening-act material, mortifying the uninitiated. Whether you love it, hate it, or fear it, you will feel strangely compelled to pitch it.


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