Dirty Projectors do Black Flag like you’ve never heard before

Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 16:10 | Category : Uncategorized
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This is surely one of the most interesting releases of the year. Now we’re all familiar with tribute albums, where artists respectfully cover songs by someone they like. There’s even the rarer cases of bands covering entire albums (Camper Van Beethoven going Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk is one that springs to mind). But Rise Above, the new album by Brooklyn-based band Dirty Projectors is more than these. It’s a “re-imagining” of Black Flag’s classic hardcore album Damaged.

What this means exactly is that head Projector David Longstreth, tries to recreate one of his favourite teenage albums, without having heard it since middle school. He relied on memory and “intuition” to re-create ten tracks from Damaged, and ended up with one of the most unique things I’ve heard in a long time.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it doesn’t sound anything like Black Flag. Not even close. But that’s part of the appeal surely. That doesn’t matter much to me either, since I’ve never heard the legendary punk original. I’m judging Rise Above merely on its own terms. It’s very much a Dirty Projectors record, as anyone familiar with their other material will attest. So Black Flag is redone with guitars which are one moment high-pitched and trebly, another moment crashing and drenched in feedback, added to by Longstreth’s sweeping and soaring vocals which could easily find home in R ’n’ B songs, and just a general lack of respect for traditional song structures. The rhythms are sometimes almost African-sounding, and rather than having backing vocals as a neat augmentation to his own, they create a sort of textured backdrop upon which David lays the rest of his schemes.

I’m finding this album pretty hard to describe, as it’s so singular and unlike anything else I’ve been listening to lately. It’s still something that I greatly admire more than love at present, but it’s slowly working its magic with me. When I get to the title track, perhaps contrarily placed at the end of the album (Rise Above was the lead track on Damaged), I’m continually struck by how brilliant it is, which then drives me back to the start again. This will no doubt continue till I’m totally hooked.

Download: Dirty Projectors – Rise Above
Download: Dirty Projectors – Gimme Gimme Gimme

Rise Above is out on 11 September on Rough Trade . Get ahead of the game and order a copy.

Want more Dirty Projectors? Head right over to Daytrotter for four free tracks from a recent awesome session.

3 Comments for “Dirty Projectors do Black Flag like you’ve never heard before”

  1. 1Matthew

    Well I’m liking the first track, but not so keen on the second. Any suggestions? Which is more representative and should I go for it and buy a copy?

  2. 2The Daily Growl

    Oh, I don’t know. It’s an album that’s pretty hard to pin down. I do think that Rise Above is the best track on there, but it’s a bit of a grower. I’d say go for it. Now that Rough Trade has been taken over by Beggars, all their new albums are on emusic now. So bonus! You can get it without having to pay full CD price…

  3. 3Anonymous


    I would say go watch the blogotheque take away show performance by the dirty projectors…. watching the women actually do the vocalization effects might change you mind about the song (may even rock your world)

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