- Dirty Projectors play the 9:30 club Tuesday night.
Dave Longstreth leads an improbable existence — he makes fey, often bizarre music that attracts celebrities. He’s collaborated with David Byrne and Björk; Solange covered one of his songs. For my money, his Brooklyn-based band’s never done anything better than its highly conceptual cover of Black Flag’s entire Rise Above LP, but Longstreth’s work is like the weather: If you don’t like something you’re hearing, just wait a while.
The twin poles of early-’90s Britpop were London and Manchester, and the Charlatans, from the dowdy West Midlands, never showed the elegant cool of the former or the raffish charm of the latter, despite their efforts to emulate bands from both scenes. It wasn’t until 1997’s Tellin Stories, which coincided with the death of the band’s longtime keyboardist Rob Collins, that the group became great, and by then “Cool Britannia” was well on its way to being a distant memory. So I was shocked by how good the band’s 2008 album You Cross My Path was; it touched on both the Ventures and Joy Division and very nearly, for the first time in the Charlatans’ career, made their refusal to go away seem like a wise decision. The group’s new album, if first single “Love Is Ending” is anything to go by, won’t be nearly as vindicating, but Tim Burgess is one of the best frontmen from that era, and when the Charlatans’ organ-peppered grooves get going, you’re gonna wonder why you ever bothered with Menswear or Northside.
Saturday’s gala opening is a lot higher stakes affair, with a guest appearance by Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, some flamenco dancers, and a bunch o’ Bizet, but if you can pass up the fireworks Friday’s show is more indicative of what the BSO’s new season will usually be like — and tickets are only $10. That would be a bargain even if it didn’t let you hear Marin Alsop take on Bach or assistant conductor Ilyich Rivas try to wrestle Mahler to the ground in his BSO conducting debut.
The thing that gives some people a rash at the very thought of seeing Toby Keith on Sept. 11 is the same thing that makes him worth seeing on Sept. 11 — the Okie bazillionaire’s utter indifference to what anyone thinks of him. That fearlessness has produced a lot of bad decisions — just recalling his rapped verses on “I Wanna Talk About Me” ages me a month — but it’s also let him flip the bird at Nashville (Keith recently wooed fellow country hunk Trace Adkins to his indie label, which takes the rather un-Music Row view that artists should make most of the money for their work) and occasionally pull off a kicking tune like “American Ride.” Face it, haters: The only boos TK’s gonna hear tonight is when he shouts out the Dallas Cowboys in his new single, “Trailerhood.”
Tortoise came along at a weird juncture for indie rock, just after major labels gave up on finding the next Nirvana in its ranks and just before the Internet, when weird bands like Dirty Projectors found alternate ways to connect with the mainstream. The Chicago band found its answer in a step backward from pop, into ambient tunes that nodded toward jazz fusion. Yeah, it made their live shows sound like what a friend of mine called “Santana in the park” for a while, and yes, a lot of their fans were unbearable young men with beards as a result, but bands like Four Tet and Mogwai would have been nowhere without their example. And the group’s persistence has rewarded people who stuck with it: Last year’s Beacons of Ancestorship is not just Tortoise’s best album but also one of the best records that came out last year.