DEVENDRA BANHART: Nino Rojo
His ability to express unfettered joy
From the new-folk underground's prettiest star comes a second batch of songs recorded during the sessions that produced last spring's Rejoicing in the Hands. What makes Devendra Banhart's arrival on the scene so welcome is his ability to express unfettered joy. The kid continues to burst with the stuff on Nino Rojo. What's more, his music grows richer as he sheds the lo-fi trappings of his first recordings. Banhart and co-producer Michael Gira know just the right detail to enhance Banhart's quavering vocals and graceful finger-picking, be it the woozy blast of brass at the end of "We All Know" or the drunken choir of multi-tracked Devendras on "Electric Heart." A collaboration with Andy Cabic of Vetiver (one of many excellent new alt-folk acts that Banhart included on his Golden Apples of the Sun compilation for Arthur magazine), "At the Hop" is the pinnacle of invention here. Banhart warbles through a happy-dappy Tin Pan Alley tune before transforming it into an Indian raga. Ah, Devendra -- no wonder the yoga moms love you.