Devendra Banhart | Oh Me Oh My | Review

LA Weekly | John Payne

creepy songlike items on his broken 4-track cassette machine

A good sign: One listen to Devendra Banhart's Oh Me Oh My on Young God Records will possibly tell you that you can't easily decipher what you're hearing. Former art student Devendra used to make small, creepy songlike items on his broken 4-track cassette machine, itty-bitty scraps of thoughts/impressions, poetic prose in simple frames of spidery acoustic guitar and a startling voice that warbles high, fretful and foreboding - vulnerable, of course, but comforting, too. Devendra's making that kind of prickly art for 2003, and Oh Me captures the pure soul of his nonsensical or intensely sensitive views with no production fuss (none needed), a lot of scratchy vérité, loads of actually fantastic guitar picking and several thrillingly unconventional song shapes. Yes, Syd Barrett's your handy ref. point, and Devendra's too, but what in lesser hands would be merely irritating is in Devendra's undeniably authentic and even authoritative. Oh Me sets new (its own) standards; by the end of one spin, it's not weird at all, more a darkly angelic kind of beautiful.