Kindred spirits: The Dismemberment Plan, Dirty Projectors, Steely Dan
Show: With Franz Nicolay and David Dondero on Sunday at the Black Cat. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. 202-667-7960. www.blackcatdc.com. $10.
The band’s guitarist, Jason Caddell, is best known for playing with the Dismemberment Plan, Washington’s beloved indie rockers who embraced spastic funk sounds and who staged a successful reunion tour earlier this year. But the Plan serves as more of a reference point for PBS rather than a blueprint. Even with all the genre-hopping, singer David Brown is the focal point of most of these songs, filling up any empty spaces with wordy forays into awkward seduction. “Hotter Than a Poptart” is his idea of a compliment. “We can make a video and put it up on YouTube,” he purrs on opener “Big Chief.” Sometimes it makes you chuckle, but too often it sounds like the singer from Barenaked Ladies doing a bad R. Kelly impression.
PBS is at its strongest when it dials things down. “Fool Runnin’ ” has the best combination of easygoing funk and sprightly guitar and keyboards. “Dance Alone” is straightforward blue-eyed soul that’s neither tongue-in-cheek or overly saccharine, allowing listeners to groove without cringing.