Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Song: Lover
Artist: Devendra Banhart
Album: Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

One semi-underground music movement that has gotten a bit of press recently is “freak folk,” also known as indie folk, psych folk, Naturalismo, and New Weird America. (You’re interested already right?) Almost unquestionably, the lead “star” of this movement is Devendra Banhart, a twenty six year old Texan who lends catchy folk-based music over strange obtuse poetry. Later this month the prolific Banhart will release his 9th album “Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon.”

This is the first full album I’ve been able to listen to of Banhart’s, and while my initial impulse is to relegate him as just a weirdo, there is a certain twinge of charm to his music, and I am just digging the record. I’ve also liked a couple songs I’ve heard on past albums, such as “Little Yellow Spider” and “At the Hop” from “Nino Rojo” and the single “I Feel Just Like a Child” from 2005’s “Cripple Crow.” That album also had the very strange “Little Boys” that is catchy, but lyrically demands a lot of questions with me.
Like most underground music movements, all the players seem to hate the genre name “freak folk” as they claim it is a lazy journalists tool to put everything in categories. Well it seems that I am no different, though I will admit to not knowing any other bands or artists within this genre. After listening to “Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon,” the frustration of the label makes more sense… or at least partly given that the record is so varied. He sings in four different languages and musically takes cues from not only folk, but classic rock, country, Motown, you name it… every song is a little strange gem. “Lover” grabbed me immediately, and again defies definition. Just a weird little tune.

I think you should check out Banhart, he’s worth the ride.


More Banhart:

I Feel Just Like a Child

At The Hop

Little Yellow Spider

“Little Boys” Live

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