Devendra Banhart, Oh Me Oh My
Vice Mgazine | by DAPHNE CARR
Devendra and Entrance take the edge off
â€œItâ€™s been amazing to watch the transformation, just in these few months,â€ says tourmate Guy Blakeslee, another psyched up singer-songwriter who records as Entrance and has watched Banhartâ€™s audiences grow from an enthusiastic few to a dense, shhh-enforcing crowd, all in the course of a winter tour.
Both art-school fool and son of a South American convict, Banhart is beyond affect and has plenty to sing about, even at his baby age of 21. His preoccupations with childbirth, physical deformity, and wordplay probably have something to do with his near-military-brat upbringing, which suggests a close matriarchal relationship and fast need of friends. Thatâ€™s my take, anyway.
Banhart found a kindred soul in ex-Swans man Michael Gira, whose Young God label agreed to assemble Banhartâ€™s mess of four-track recordings and answering-machine messages into a proper album, simply titled Oh Me Oh Myâ€¦The Way the Day Goes By the Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs of the Christmas Spirit. Released last year, the album trickled into criticsâ€™ ears and began to build a base for Banhartâ€™s current upswing in popularity amongst the thrift-store-suit-jackets-over-sweaters set.
Devendra has already cemented a reputation as an old-timey, crackle-voiced genius. With the full-throttle blues of Entrance as opener or, in a nice turn of showmanship, a tag teaming co-headliner, the quiet of Banhartâ€™s 78-rpm worldview is given proper frame. On stage, Banhart nearly falls from his seat with earnestnessâ€”even when, in a drunken state, he forgets the words and just idly picks a broken melody and waits for inspiration to come again.