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Breaking: Dirty Projectors

June 10, 2009 2:13 PM ET

Who: Dirty Projectors, a Brooklyn five-piece led by mastermind David Longstreth whose unusual blend of blues and punk has captured the attention of David Byrne, Björk and TV on the Radio.

Sound Like: The band's latest album Bitte Orca mixes soul-inflected vocal harmonies, jagged art-rock guitar and Timbaland-like rhythms. Aging hipster's gripe "Stillness Is the Move" sounds like Talking Heads by way of Destiny's Child.

Vital Stats:

• Longstreth began the Dirty Projectors while studying classical greats like Stravinsky and Wagner in college. His art-rock obsession didn't mix well with student life. "What I hated about school was this reverence for the rules," he says. "But for me, it's helpful to know the music of the past to make the music of the future." (He dropped out of Yale but completed his degree between albums.)

• Working with a constantly evolving cast of musicians (including members of Vampire Weekend), Longstreth recorded a surreal rock opera about Don Henley (2005's The Getty Address) and an Afropop orchestral-rock remake of Black Flag's Damaged. The band now includes singer-guitarist Ambert Coffman, multi-instrumentalist Angel Deradoorian, singer Haley Dekle, bassist Nat Baldwin and drummer Brian Mcomber.

• Longstreth recently DJed at a chic New York hotel alongside one of his heroes: Björk. "There is so much character and individuality in their music," says the singer, who recently performed a suite of songs Longstreth wrote for her. "It's exciting how David changes from record to record. He's like a film director."

Get It Now: Check out footage of Dirty Projectors' set at NPR's SXSW showcase above. Bitte Orca is in stores now.

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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