Devendra Banhart Shares Memorial

I honestly don’t know what it is about Devendra Banhart, but something about his songwriting always just feels like I’m at home. Maybe it’s the slight quiver just beneath his voice, or maybe its the sincerity that shines through his lyrics. On his newest single, it seems like Devendra is definitely getting personal, having penned a song in memory of three lost friends. It’s such a gentle number, with these beautiful arrangements behind Devendra’s voice and guitar; they add this textural depth that is often overlooked in his writing. His new album Ma is being released by Nonesuch on September 13th. It’ll be followed by a bunch of tour dates for the Fall, including a stop in Austin for Levitation.

Devendra Banhart Announces Ma

It’s been a few years since we’ve heard anything new from Devendra Barnhart, though he’s worked on a few compilations in his downtime. But, for me, while folks have their Obersts and their Whites, I’ve always been a Devendra guy; I also feel like he got sort of wrongfully placed in that whole freak-folk category…but, whatever. So, below is this wonderful new single; it’s got some nice little horn accompaniment, giving the song sort of a folk meets swamp boogie vibe; I suggest you wait until after the 3 minute mark for a real nice vocal touch from Banhart. His new album, Ma, will be out on September 13th, with a slew of tour dates slated for the fall, including a (possibly too expensive) show in Austin at Stubbs.

Vashti Bunyan Tune from New Devendra Banhart Compilation

I will admit to being way into Devendra Banhart; I loved his early work, and even more so, his later, more polished pieces. He’s always been well-regarded by his peers, or its seemed as such to me, so when he announced his new compilation, I perked right up. So, over the years he’s been collecting demos from the people he admires most, with heavy-hitters like Arthur Russell, Jana Hunter, Tim Presley and Vashti Bunyan. The Bunyan track is below, delicate in its presentation; you can also find the track on Lookafteing from 2005. The Fragments du Monde Flattant will be released on March 1st, limited to only 2000 copies worldwide, courtesy of Bongo Joe Records.

Austin on a Thursday Night

So tomorrow is a crazy busy day in the “live music capital,” so I wanted to create an optimal schedule for you to maximize your time, as well as see some suggestions on nightlife.

Start early over at Mohawk by checking out Mannequin Pussy and Joyce Manor…young sound, semi-emo, little punk. It’s outside, so if you want, you can go home after because it’ll end early.

But, you could also jump ship a bit early to catch a couple of great local releases. Lola Tried is jamming out over at Cheer Up Charlies to celebrate the release of their new EP or hit up Barracuda to get your hands on the new Letting Up Despite Great Faults EP!

Then go back to Mohawk, because Tyvek and Fred Thomas are jamming out. Or be cool, and just bounce all over if your wallet allows.

You could also go see Devendra Banhart play out near Buda at some place called Emos. It’s new, never heard of it.

Sample some songs below. Read more

Something Different from Private Victories

privatevictoriesBoom. Tuesday is made! This song’s totally different than anything else I’ve gotten in days, and I’m totally in love with Private Victories…at least for the next few hours. It’s got that quirky singer-songwriter sensibility many associate with Magnetic Fields, although I think I hear a bit of Devendra Banhart too in the way the vocal notes are drawn out. Sometimes things get circular in the music that comes out, which is why I really love stuff that takes a step outside. Looking for something familiar, yet refreshing? Look for the self-titled debut to come out on May 6th.

New Music From Devendra Banhart

devandraEccentric folk singer songwriter Devendra Banhart has been a bit quiet in the music world as of late, but he’s about to release another album of new material.  His new LP will be called What Will Be and is hitting stores October 27th via Warner Bros.  Here’s first glimpse of that new album with “Baby”.  Anyone want to offer some first impressions?

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Baby.mp3]

Download: Devendra Banhart – Baby [MP3]

Vetiver – Tight Knit

vetiver-tight_knit-album_art

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Andy Cabic and Co. return with a loud whisper this outing with definitely their strongest album they have recorded to date.  Vetiver’s new release Tight Knit warms your ears through the cold days without all the embarrassment.  Having been part of the freak-folk scene in New York for awhile, Vetiver rubbed elbows with some of the heavy-weights on the music circuit today like Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom which soon led them to a tour with Vashti Bunyan. Fast-forward to 2009 and Vetiver are now signed to Sub-Pop with some indie credibility and major promotion/distribution to follow. I was reading a couple weeks ago in the Austin Chronicle about bands set to break-out at this year’s SXSW Music Fest and Vetiver were listed.  HAAAAAAAAAA! They probably think this is Vetiver‘s first album. I mean, it’s not like they haven’t been making waves on the last two efforts. I’d say To Find Me Gone was their “break-out” album, but I guess they aren’t big enough considering they aren’t playing in arenas right? Pfft…scoff-scoff, nose up and pinkies out suckas.

Tight Knit has a dreamy floating quality to it through-out that normally would sound like  a lot of fluff to someone who hasn’t heard the album yet, but take a gander at it and you’ll see. The warmth of the vibraphone being used in the opener “Rolling Sea” immediately calms your nerves and gently rocks you back and forth. Zzz……….ahhhhhhh. Lap steel guitar makes it’s first appearance on the album in “Sister.” The layer of the instrument twists and pulls, breathes in and out, making you tap your feet and skip down the street. The skipping soon picks up to hopping when the opening rhythm chords of “Everyday” begin. The chug-a-lug feel comes to a nice vocal break-down and goes right back into the hopping. If there were a song which made you feel like the first day of spring had arrived, this is the one.

Cabic has a whispering way of singing that soothes your skin, his delivery is like the breeze– not forceful, not un-noticed, just a hammock away from day-dreaming. Though there are bar room stomper songs like “More Of This,” he never loses his velvet luster. You think the singing could easily give way to screaming and howling, but it’s just not in his nature.

The album is consistent from beginning to end. It never trails off boring you with a better half of the album than the other. Maybe this is Vetiver’s break-out album and I’m a jaded jerk-off. Maybe I’m just a music dork that has way too much time on his hands. Maybe you need to get off your ass and buy this album.

[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/everyday.mp3]

Download: Vetiver – Everyday [MP3]

Megapuss – Surfing

Rating: ★★★½ ·

It is now apparent that Fab Moretti of The Strokes is intent upon taking over the music scene this week, as this is the second release of the week with the drummer laying down the percussion tracks. This time, however, he has joined up with Devendra Banhart of neo-hippy lore in order to create a jazzed out pop folk album under the name Megapuss.

Unfortunately for us, Devendra Banhart is cool with indecent exposure, thus we get this horrific cover art, but perhaps this is set to draw in the female audience.  Needless to say, one might have gone beyond the standard of taste here. Of course, the inclusion of such a picture furthers the sexual undertones all over the album, not to mention the band’s current moniker.

Expectations were that this would be one of the most creative pop albums of the year, as Banhart is known for his abstract approaches.  This time he takes a more standard approach, including various other musicians such as Moretti and Greg Rosgrove of Priestbird.  Fab’s precision percussion definitely allows a steadying pace to the oddly poppy songs present on the album.

It’s difficult to describe the ebbs and flows of this album, which can be driven by the album’s title, Surfing. Listening to the album takes you up and down, atop the wave and crashing to the ocean floor.  The opener “Crop Circle Jerk 94” is a swinging number, while the albums title track is a more subdued jazzier number. You also have to include Devandra’s dedication to the psychedelic aspect of musical musings, as there is definitely a presence here.

In fact, it would be really easy to classify this entire album under the Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era.  Songs like “Theme from Hollywood” or “Older Lives” have a tendency to live decades in the past, although the lyrical content is definitely less experimental, the music still leans toward an out-of-body listening experience.

One of the huge detractors on this album is the presence of background vocals.  It’s difficult for Banhart to separate himself from the hordes of followers and friends he has, thus he chooses to include them on his album, which doesn’t always play to his benefit here.  If you stripped those elements away you would find that there is a lot of substance.

All in all you find that this is definitely a nice step out of the traditional folk approach for Banhart, and yet another interesting step for Fab Moretti.  Even if it is just for kicks, it’s refreshing to see these fine fellows step outside themselves for just a little while.