A few years ago, at my last job, I asked a coworker if he could recommend any lo-fi bands that I might enjoy. (Lo-fi music is a style of music that takes its name from the instruments used to play it as well as the instruments used to record it — take Sebadoh’s album III as a prime example of good lo-fi music) He immediately suggested that I try out The Dirty Projectors. I did and loved it right away — so much so that I was quite excited earlier this year when I learned that they were putting out a new album called Swing Lo Magellan.

After what seemed like an eternal wait, the album has finally been released and I am thrilled every time I give it a proper full listen. It starts off with the song “Offspring are Blank” that features, of all things, the full band humming melodically as you can see in this live version recorded at The Music Hall of Williamsburg.

Just when I thought the whole song was going to be like that and that I was entering into an album of peaceful chants, the rocking kicked off and I knew that it was going to be another awesome album by The Dirty Projectors. The lyrics are as excellent as ever. In the song “Gun Has No Trigger”, we get this bit of lyrical play —

If you had looked, you might have just seen them
Stretched in the background
You’d see the oceans swell
And the mountains shook
You’d see a million colors

To me it seems to be a criticism of people who walk around every day living their lives and never noticing anything really amazing or beautiful in their world because they are too busy staring at the carrot dangling in front of them to see that there’s a beautifully designed building to their left, or a fantastically well made motorcycle on the sidewalk in front of them.

I was quite pleased with the instrumentation on this album. Various classical instruments featured quite prominently on a few tracks including a viola, violin, and cello. While this seems to go against the general idea of lo-fi recording, the band makes it work here, giving songs like “Unto Caesar” a richer feel.

The album is available on CD has two different vinyl releases — one is 180 grams, limited to 3000, and comes in better packaging than the standard 150 gram release. The release that came with a special 8 inch square single of the song “Gun Has No Trigger” is sold out and, too predictably, selling on eBay for far more than this fan would like to see. Good thing the digital release can’t sell out! It is also on Spotify if you want to check it out before committing to a purchase.


  1. It’s just been recently that I’ve been made aware of lo-fi music. This is an interesting find.

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