Swing Lo Magellan by The Dirty Projectors

The Dirty Projectors are for music fans who grew up listening to rock in/of the late 60’s but at the same time never gave up on the continued progression of music that era promised us.

Mind you, I’m not talking about classic rock fans happy in their high school memories of freeze-dried glory of dreams that never were or never could be.

If these are indeed my last years in the earth, my greatest joy may be discovering the Projectors and my biggest regret may be discovering them just as their (possibly) best lineup was disintegrating.

The period we are looking at is within the demarcation of the entry and exit of Amber Coffman 2006 (with a “from memory” reproduction of a Black Flag album) to 2012’s Swing Lo Magellan.

Moments of joy in the swirling vocal arrangements of Swing Lo Magellan

– one minute into the album the band nearly transforms into early Queen within a song mainly defined by a thumping 808 kick drum in slow groove mode

– the drums and claps and the arch bass of “About To Die”

– the skippy beat of “Gun Has No Trigger”

– the Dylan recitation that is the title track, down to drums in the left ear only

– somehow handclaps are the focus of “Just From Chevron” until the song folds out into an impossible-sounding Steve Howe world

– within all the mostly obscure lyrics here, a very direct love song in “Impregnable Question”

– the string arrangements against the clattering thumpy percussion of “See What She’s Singing”

– “The Socialites” right from David’s plucky guitar figures into the perfectly just innocent enough lyrics and whatever the heck is making the “wow” sounds throughout. “Who knows what my spirit is worth in cold hard cash?”

– the off the cuff harmony recording in “Unto Caesar”

– somehow an Elvis tribute of sorts in “Irresponsible Tune” to close it out

– the video “Hi Custodian” which functions both as a video and remix of the entire album

After this my understanding of the Projectors gets a bit murky. Before this album came out, Angel left. Olga Bell then joined. Dave and Amber broke up but Dave helped Amber with a solo album but then also dropped his own entirely solo album that was apparently a big secret. Now he has a band with a similar lineup but different people – besides himself and bassist Nat.


By Jimmy Lem

Things in my head that make it to my fingers.

For more Jimmy Lem -

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