Devendra Banhart: Making the world safe for hopeful, happy hippiesBanhart's latest masterpiece, "NiÃ±o Rojo," is replete with optimism and positivism Why does everyone hate hippies? Some 30 years ago the group unsuccessfully and rightfully tried to prevent the inevitable: the complete takeover of technology, uniformity and cynicism. Some of our best music was produced by hippies; where would our ears be without the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, etc.? Many people are scoffing at this very article right now because they feel uncomfortable with anything but our society's jaded nature. Even I would laugh at this poorly written article because I, too, easily turn to disillusionment instead of embracing my parents' philosophy. We feel most comfortable with albums like Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," Grandaddy's "Sophtware Slump" and Beck's "One Foot in the Grave," which certainly are all great albums. Devendra Banhart, the best new act in music, is the anti-Beck, the folk artist with the temerity to look at the world with optimistic eyes.
Banhart's latest masterpiece, "NiÃ±o Rojo," is replete with optimism and positivism. The best tracks sound so genuine and playful that many people will quickly dismiss him. The troubadour's lilting melodies are always complemented by his trembling, androgynous vocals, the most affecting in music today. "Little Yellow Spider" features Banhart singing about animals having more of an understanding of the world than humans. I know, I know. It sounds corny, but it's really not. The best track, "At the Hop," includes lines like, "Put me in your breakfast and put me on your plate/Because you know I taste great." The song sounds so natural that you almost have to sing along with him. Banhart is the neo-hippie, traveling around the country and recording on answering machines, 4-tracks and playing with his classical guitar in the woods. He laments on "Noah" that "Not everyone can relate to what you and I appreciate." Banhart is not for everyone, but his message is clear and respectable in the context of the modern music industry.