Devendra Banhart | OH ME OH MY... | Review/Interview
Mojo | Andrew Male
The Frog PrinceMy, what big talent you have, says Andrew Male
Devendra Banhart Review/Mojo December Issue 2002
Shades of Syd, early Bolan, Karen Dalton and Vashti Bunyan in this startling debut from a previously unknown Texas-born 21 year oldâ€¦
Like some stick-framed chimera born of Grimmâ€™s Fairy Tales, Devendra Banhart has seemingly come from nowhere, spinning dark enchanted riddles born in the dusky corners of a childhood nightmare. Discovered by ex-Swans vocalist Michael Giraâ€™s Young God Records after an LA support slot for New York art rockers Flux Information Sciences, Banhart presented Gira with a swag bag of songs and half songs recorded on 4-track and phone answering machines. These are the songs you can hear on Oh Me Oh Myâ€¦, complete with tape hiss, car horns, and bird calls in the distance. With the opening handclaps and finger-picking fragment Tick Eats The Olive you hear the Harry Smith folk roots of Banhartâ€™s taste, but itâ€™s the voice that pulls you in, flitting from lilting to hectoring, sweet to sinister. At his sweetest â€“ the soft croon of Michigan State â€“ he sounds like Tyrannosaurus Rex and Bolan singing Nilsson fragments. But in his darkest moments, the unsettling childâ€™s journey of The Charles C. Leary (â€œI lost the gloves that my mother gave to me/While on the way to the make-believe seaâ€) or the kettle-boil screech of Lend Me Your Teeth (â€œIâ€™m lost in the dark/Lend Me Your Teeth/Câ€™MON!â€) he could be Barrett-era Syd possessed by the soul of Tiny Tim. But ultimately, Oh Me Oh Myâ€¦is an album that escapes definition, beguilingly sweet, yet ever so, ever so dark. â€œChristmas is hereâ€ he sings on album closer The Spirit Is Near. â€œAll the leaves are jumping/When will they ever learn?â€
Devendra Banhart Talks To Andrew Male
-Are there plans to do a â€œproperâ€ studio album now?
â€œ Man, I had no clue this shit was going to get put out! The next record will be a â€˜properâ€™ studio album in the sense that it will be recorded in the studio, still it wonâ€™t be some slicked-out shit. The difference will be the sound quality, help from Michael Gira, and access to other instruments like piano and xylophone.â€
-Do you try to sing like your heroes â€“ Karen Dalton and Marc Bolan?
â€œ I remember after a show, someone was like, â€˜You gotta hear Tyrannosaurus Rexâ€™ and I was like, Oh yeah T-Rex. â€˜No, Tyrannosaurus Rex, itâ€™s totally different! Iâ€™ll make you a tapeâ€™ And they did, and I shit my pants. But I didnâ€™t just shit â€˜cos it was good but out of relief that I didnâ€™t know it existed before I started writing. Karen, Oh man, I canâ€™t even try to sound like her. If in any way I do, itâ€™s â€˜cos I listen to it constantly. The mind tries and the heart does. Fuck the mind, it gives the worst advice, never write songs with it.â€