Tag Archive: Devendra Banhart

9e1294e6fcdbbaf68ecdf171bd269f81651a92e2“Kill yr idols” advocated Sonic Youth back in the day, an extreme strategy that is not actually an invitation to murder but a warning against putting faith in heroes. Bob Dylan meant something similar when he sang (in Subterranean Homesick Blues) “Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters”.

Be your own person is the implicit message. While it’s ok to admire and respect others, it’s always worth remembering that people have a nasty habit of letting you down. Keeping a healthy sense of detachment avoids being disillusioned. Far safer to set your own goals, maintain your own standards and generally search for the hero inside yourself.

Devendra Banhart is a case in point. I was a huge fan of his when he burst upon the scene under the wing of head Swan Michael Gira. 2004’s Rejoicing In The Hands remains one of my all time favorite albums and I had the good fortune to see him play songs from this and its immediate follow ups – Nino Rojo and Cripple Crow. For a while he could do no wrong in my eyes. His charm, wit and good looks added to his appeal. In short , though not quite an idol , he used to be a hero. Continue reading



Mutual Benefit - Love's Crushing DiamondI want to shout it from the rooftops but I’m rubbish at climbing and I’m afraid I’ll fall.

I’ll blog the news instead that Love’s Crushing Diamond by Mutual Benefit is the best record I’ve heard all year.

I don’t usually look for music tips from Pitchfork Media – I’m too frequently irritated by their show-off reviewers and their keenness to demonstrate their hipster credentials.

But I’m eternally grateful to Ian Cohen’s enthusiastic write-up for bringing  to my attention this instantly appealing and spontaneously joyful release.

Cohen is right to draw comparisons to Devendra Banhart (and other freak folksters) and to note that these lovely songs are about as un-macho and quietly endearing as you can get. Continue reading

Until 8am this morning that I didn’t even know that a new Devendra Banhart was about to drop (on 12th March).

The excellent NPR first listen allows a sneak preview. It’s called Mala and is released on Nonesuch Records

I decided to try an experiment. I made a point of not reading any pre-publicity and listened to the whole album from start to finish without even checking what the tracks were called – the titles are the only words I added later. it’s not a proper review – just a series of impressions. Continue reading


In 2006, a Dutch filmmaker named David Kleijwegt  made a TV documentary called  The Eternal Children about the kooky sisters CocoRosie . It connected their music and petulant refusal to behave like sensible grownups with other musicians, including Devendra Banhart, William Basinski and Anthony & The Johnsons.

Six years on, something of the innocence and freshness of the New Weird America has faded but it seems to me that there are many artists who still want to preserve and promote a sense of childlike wonder both in the music they make and the tie-in visuals they commission. This is not so surprising when the alternative is the cynical adult marketing behind the crude bump and grind of MTV videos.

This fact struck me again when watching the  beautiful animation by Crush Creative to Jónsi‘s Gathering Stories, a song from the latest Cameron Crowe movie We Bought A Zoo.

You can see the same spirit pervading the images in Ólafur Arnalds’ Hægt, kemur ljósið (directed by Esteban Diácono) from the Icelander’s 2010 album: ‘…and they have escaped the weight of darkness’.

You can then compare these with an older tune – The Lake by Antony and the Johnsons,  a wonderful tune based on a poem by  Edgar Allen Poe and animated by Adam Shecter.


Jansch from 1965

Sad to read of the passing of one of Bert Jansch at the age of 67.

Bert was one of the towering figures of British Folk and Blues and also an inspiration to a new generation of artists in the UK and America.

Those who influenced by his distinctive guitar playing style include Jimmy Page, Neil Young, Johnny Marr and Devendra Banhart.

Colin Harper‘s book Dazzling Stranger and the exemplary CD compilation curated by Harper are the best introductions to his work and will help to ensure he is not forgotten.

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