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Best of the 00s: Dirty Projectors, Dizzee Rascal, & The Drive By Truckers

Posted by November 16th, 2010 No Comments »

Best of the 00s: Gabe Joins the 21st Century
Part 12: Dirty Projectors, Dizzee Rascal, & The Drive By Truckers  

Nada Co-founders Matt and Gabe are listening to 197 of the music press’s picks for “best albums of the 00s” for a series called Gabe Joins the 21st Century.

Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
A/V Club #43

Matt: There’s something quite remarkable about Bitte Orca: it reminds me of pretentious 70s prog-rock and I don’t hate it. In fact, I kind of like it. Quite indescribable, this unpredictable album weaves together folk, funk, R&B and guitar virtuosity into a something unlike anything that’s come before it. Which isn’t to say I love it either. The disjointed rhythms and lack of structure of the first two tracks, “Cannibal Resource” and “Temecula Sunrise,” are made tolerable only by the devastatingly terrific guitar sound, which keeps me interested enough to stick around for the big payoff on “The Ride,” which sounds like art school kids channeling Zepplin and succeeding. Big time. It’s such a unique, wonderful track that one can’t help but be hooked for the rest of the album, which continues to delight and confound in equal measure. Grade: LIKE

Gabe: Bitte Orca bursts like fireworks. Folky guitars create a dreamy atmosphere, suddenly shattered with blasts of electric guitar histronics and sudden, sharp female vocals that sigh and ooh and ahh like Motown. From the lyrics and the vocal style I thought Dirty Projectors might be a collective of electric cracked out genius California hippies. Turns out they are not. If this doesn’t make any sense, it’s a tribute to Dirty Projectors, who with Bitte Orca have accomplished the nearly impossible task of making rock sound new again. Listening to Bitte Orca is like jumping into a icemelt-fed Oregon river after mowing lawns all day in the summer heat. Try on “Temeculah Sunrise” for size, and don’t be surprised if it fits like a favorite pair of jeans you reluctantly tossed years ago. Grade: LOVE.

Dizzee RapscallionDizzee Rascal – Boy in Da Corner
NME #26

Gabe: Boy in Da Corner has 16 tracks. It is 57:21 long. It gets a score of 92 on Metacritic. I would describe it as gangsta rap with an English accent, but I don’t know shit about shit. All I know is that I found the “innovative” beats to be oppressive and irritating, and the lyrics to be grim and humorless. PopMatters says that Dizzee Rascal, “uses garage as the jumping off point for an ear-bending journey through the music of fin-de-siecle African diaspora,” so Boy in Da Corner has that going for it. I hated it, but I’m old and narrow-minded and shouldn’t really be entitled to an opinion. Grade: DNL

Matt: Suggestion for Dizzee: instead of “rascal,” what about the rarer and more sophisticated “rapscallion?” Surely Dizzee Rapscalion is a moniker that could more expeditiously propel a critically-acclaimed British MC and producer into the collective consciousness. This would be especially effective on song 10, “Jus a Rapscallion.” Let’s bring a bit of Jolly Old England to the “grime” scene and take your unique blend of hip-hop, house and ragga to the masses. No longer shall ye be the Boy in Da Corner, ye shall be Da Boy on Da Duet With Usher. Trust me on this, you Dizzee Rapscallion you. Grade: DNL

Buy thisDrive By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera
Nada #45

Gabe: There are works of fiction that I find truer than supposedly factual history. You can never convince me that Oliver Stone’s The Doors is not a documentary. Nor will I accept that any history book tells the story of Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy assassination more accurately than Don Delillo’s novel Libra. And for the real history of the post-WWII Southern United States I have Southern Rock Opera. Southern Rock Opera looks at the “Southern Thing” in all it of its “misunderstood glory.”  This double album of classic hard rock hinges on “The Three Alabama Icons,” which expounds upon the social histories of George Wallace, Paul “Bear” Bryant, and Ronnie Van Zant.

After reading the foregoing, you could be thinking Southern Rock Opera sounds pretentious or dry, but it totally rocks. With a running time of 94 minutes there are some weak tracks, but “Dead, Drunk, and Naked,” “Birmingham,” and “Women Without Whiskey” are some of the best song DBT ever recorded, and disc two is bookended by one of the most joyful (“Let There Be Rock”) and saddest (“Angels and Fuselage”) songs about life filtered through the rock n’ roll prism that I’ve ever heard. Grade: LOVE

Matt: Like most things worth loving, Southern Rock Opera is a confusing, unpredictable mess filled with tremendous highs and forgettable lows. Re-examined now, a decade after its release and in context of the two better albums that would come after it – Decoration Day and The Dirty South – it’s hard not to focus on those lows (I wouldn’t wish departing member Rob Malone’s “Moved” or “Cassie’s Sister” on anyone), but the warmth, perceptiveness and humor that permeate this 21 song concept album about the southern U.S. (as told through the lens of Lynyrd Skynyrd) make it a classic. The opening title track and “The Three Great Alabama Icons” are like nothing before or since –  hillbilly spoken word over trippy, textured southern rock – and “Let There Be Rock” is certainly the best fist-pumping, sing-a-long song about the rock n’ roll experience of the last decade, perhaps ever recorded. Grade: LOVE

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