On Wednesday evening, at The Living Room, our friends at NPR Music’s All Songs Considered had a listening party. This entailed listening to new and not-yet-released songs, and rating them with cards that held numbers 1 through 10.
The audience rated them and so did a panel of supposed Experts, which I was on. The beer and wine was free, so a good time was ensured; and most folks were in an expansive mood. Each song (heard “blind” - without any introduction) received the usual bell curve of ratings – a few high numbers, a few low, and more in the middle. But there was one exception: a crazy quilt of off-kilter vocal harmonies, ominous electric guitar power chords, and intricate percussion. It was easily the evening’s most divisive song – with lots of people holding up 9s and 10s and an equally big amount holding up 2s and even 1s.
I held up a 9. And a 3. There was some chuckling, and Bob Boilen, the host, asked why I’d done that. I replied, “they were just daring me to hold up this 3. But every time I thought I had the piece pegged, it turned into something else – and I kept wanting to hear what happened next. That is some pretty ballsy songwriting. So I’m holding up this 9.”
Turned out the song was a new one from the forthcoming album by Dirty Projectors. This Brooklyn band, led by composer David Longstreth, makes some of the most challenging, angular, and innovative indie rock you will hear anywhere. David Byrne and Björk are fans. So am I. Now, they’ve released a new video for the single “Gun Has No Trigger.” (Not the song the ASC folks played the other night.) I actually think this is a pretty accessible song, and the video is simple but beautifully colored – David Longstreth’s directorial debut, and a good one.