Eye Weekly | by Jason Anderson

a work of great purity and ingenuity

If this were the Middle Ages, Devendra Banhart would inspire a religious cult of nomadic self-flagellators. Since this is the 21st century, he is attracting followers who are slightly less freaky: bearded psych-folk fans, heard-it-all rock critics and explorers of the burgeoning zone of "outsider music" (hear the two volumes of Songs in the Key of Z for further reference). Discovered after he gave a bag of home recordings to former Swans leader and Young God Records founder Michael Gira, Banhart is a 21-year-old whose surreal, spectral music variously recalls Tyrannosaurus Rex, Syd Barrett, Nick Drake and the sort of English folk tunes favoured in the days when people got stoned with real stones. The thoroughly wondrous Oh Me Oh My... (the full title is actually 22 words long) collects Banhart's largely improvised tributes to flowers, animals, "nice people" and the state of Michigan. What could've been a contrived art-school prank -- after all, Banhart is not some inbred from the Ozarks but a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute -- feels more like a work of great purity and ingenuity. He is surely on the side of the angels.