When vocalist-guitarist Amber Coffman takes the Casbah stage this weekend as a member of Brooklyn's art-pop band Dirty Projectors, it will mark a sort of homecoming. Before relocating to New York at the beginning of this year, Coffman played for a few years in San Diego's Sleeping People, which shares the Sunday-night bill.
This past July, in the kitchen of the Bedford-Stuyvesant house she shares with bandmate Dave Longstreth and other musicians, she said, "I love [New York City] and its energy, but I do miss being in San Diego with the people, the weather, and that less hectic pace...." A postcard of Sunset Cliffs adorned the fridge door.
Another SD connection in the Brooklyn rental is roommate Ray Raposa of the Castanets -- the part-time San Diegan rents the basement and last year recorded a split ten-inch with the Dirty Projectors in the living room. (Entitled "BlackWater," the Castanets track documents the nautical near-disaster the band escaped last September when their NY-to-Virginia sailboat tour ended outside Baltimore after grazing a buoy in the dark.)
Because the house has acquired a rep as home to some of NYC's critically acclaimed acts (including Vampire Weekend), Fader magazine did a group interview (" 'Who's the messiest?' Raposa: 'Me. For sure. Water bottles full of piss. A lot of beer cans. Some gnarled dishes' ").
Dirty Projectors recorded their latest album in the house. Rise Above, released on Tuesday, is being hailed by critics as a breakthrough record; it's a reimagining of tracks off 1981's Damaged LP by Black Flag.
While cleaning out his boyhood room, DP leader Longstreth found the empty Black Flag cassette case -- his favorite album from middle school. He set about creating new compositions to the record's lyrics that he could recall from memory. The result encompasses everything from quirky rock and deep soul to a unique avant-Afropop, propelled by Longstreth's somewhat Jeff Buckley-ish vocalizations and the key contribution of recurring female vocals akin to Marley's I-Threes or South Africa's Mahotella Queens.
Coffman's is one of those sweet female voices on the record -- the other is from former Dirty Projector and veteran San Diego--based indie musician Susanna Waiche, who has played in local bands Sterling Silver and the Album Leaf and lent her vocal talents to the Black Heart Procession. Waiche's voice has been used in commercials produced by SD music house Singing Serpent (including a season-long Padres promo a few years ago).