October 7, 2009

This little wisp of a Devendra Banhart sampler


I was flipping through a stack of CDs late one night last week, and fingered a thin paper envelope with some sort of Spirograph monkey drawn on the front and no name. The back read: “Baby, 16th & Valencia Roxy Music, Goin Back.” Curious, I lingered on it for a moment and slid the CD out of the case, only to see that it was three new songs from none other than the bearded, penis-skirted, freak-folker Devendra Banhart.

Devendra’s music that I’ve heard darts all over the map. Some of my favorites have been his haunting, warbly stuff like “Quedate Luna,” which (bear with me) reminds me of a possessed wolf outside your Spanish mountain hostel in the full moonlight. Unsettling, beautiful stuff.

This little sampler o’ songs from his new full-length What Will We Be (October 27) is absolutely 100% marvelous, each of the three songs they gave me as appetizers. On the deliriously tired drive home from the airport Monday morning, I must have listened to this on repeat a good seven or eight times, and listening to it this morning I am still not tired of it. There is structure, and lapping melody, and dare I say even pop.

Stream the first track, the deliciously slinky “Baby,” on his MySpace, and listen to the singalong, hip-shaking, light fantastic anthem here. It makes me feel feisty:

16th & Valencia Roxy Music – Devendra Banhart
(“Tonight we’re gonna find our lovers! Tonight we’re gonna find our man.“)

Rodrigo Amarante appears on the new album as well (the Brazilian frontman for the tropicalia-inspired kiddos in Little Joy), and Devendra just finished a few tour dates with them as well. Also appearing on the album are members of Vetiver, Megapuss, and Band of Bees. The Venezuelan-bred Devendra has spent years living in San Francisco’s vibrant Castro district, and the new album was recorded in an unspecified “sleepy Northern California town.” I might wear this little three song sampler out before October 27th.


11.16.09 at Vic Theatre (Chicago, IL)
11.17.09 at The Ark (Ann Arbor, MI)
11.19.09 at Higher Ground (Burlington, VT)
11.20.09 at Berklee (Boston, MA)
11.22.09 at Town Hall (New York, NY)
11.24.09 at Electric Factory (Philadelphia, PA)
11.25.09 at 9:30 Club (Washington, DC)
11.27.09 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre (Toronto, ON)

[tour photo via the fabulous Laurie Scavo]

July 13, 2007

Guilt By Association: Some will win, some will lose (some are born to sing the blues)

No need to hide — there’s a new compilation CD coming out August 28 from Engine Room Recordings called Guilt By Association, which nobly is working to “bridge the gap between TRL and Pitchfork.” It’s a shrewd concept album which realizes that for each of us, maybe behind those thick black spectacles, chunky haircut, and Strokes t-shirt, is a soul screaming along the words to Mariah Carey on our car stereos.

A project of Engine Room Recording’s co-founder Peter Block, working with music supervisors Randall Poster and Jim Dunbar (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The School of Rock and my second-favorite TV show Lost), the album asks the indie stars of today to reinterpret their favorite guilty pleasure songs for our auditory enjoyment. There are hits and misses (and I boldly do not feel guilty about liking some of these originals), but check the tracklist –

1. Petra Haden: “Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey)
2. Devendra Banhart: “Don’t Look Back In Anger” (Oasis)
3. Mark Mulcahy: “From This Moment On” (Shania Twain)
4. Luna: “Straight Up” (Paula Abdul)
5. The Concretes: “Back For Good” (Take That)
6. Jim O’Rourke: “Viva Forever” (Spice Girls)
7. Goat: “Sugar We’re Going Down” (Fall Out Boy)
8. Will Oldham/Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy” “Can’t Take That Away” (Mariah Carey)
9. Woody Jackson Orchestra featuring Money Mark: Love’s Theme (Love Unlimited Orchestra)
10. Porter Block: “Breaking Free” (High School Musical)
11. Mooney Suzuki: “Just Like Jesse James” (Cher)
12. Geoff Farina: “Two Tickets To Paradise” (Eddie Money)
13. Casey Shea: “Chop Suey” (System of a Down)
14. Superchunk: “Say My Name” (Destiny’s Child)
15. Mike Watt: “Burning For You” (Blue Oyster Cult)

The arguably crazy Devendra Banhart has been called “one of our favorite freaky people” by The Black Crowes, and here he takes on Oasis with his trademark warbly folk meandering. If you prefer fragile delicacy over confident generational anthems, this is just for you:

Don’t Look Back In Anger (Oasis cover) – Devendra Banhart
(link removed)

Will Oldham / Bonnie “Prince” Billy busts out the aforementioned Mariah Carey. Well, not exactly busts out. More like lets the slow jam ebb out. It’s playful and surprisingly enjoyable.

Can’t Take That Away (Mariah Carey cover) – Will Oldham/Bonnie “Prince” Billy
(link removed)

Go to the MySpace page to hear Petra Haden tip her hat to my boys in Journey with a sunny acapella-harmony-deelite version of “Don’t Stop Believin’” with some Wilson Phillips tossed in at the end just to really drive that guilty pleasure idea home. I think that the last time I did karaoke I tried my hand at covering the same song; pretty sure it didn’t sound as bubblegum delectable. The crowd may have, in fact, stopped believing, despite my exhortations to the contrary.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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