Devendra Banhart, Niño Rojo

Boston Weekly | by J. Bennett

His music is brilliant and mnemonic

A brief recitation of the facts: This album contains 16 songs laid to tape at the same time as Banhart's Rejoicing in the Hands (released earlier this year); it sounds like it was recorded in Leadbelly's prison cell, circa 1925. Banhart may or may not have been named by an Indian mystic, but he's definitely the prodigy of ex-Swans/current Angel of Light main man Michael Gira, which makes no sense whatsoever but is nonetheless the case. Since the release of Rejoicing, Banhart has gone from a smelly homeless hippie to a smelly Manhattan-dwelling hippie with photos of his beard in everything from The New York Times to, um, Nylon. His music is brilliant and mnemonic in that sparse, Django-Reinhart-meets-Syd-Barrett, non-coffee-house folkie kind of way that is (somehow) devoid of pretension - and exposes all us glib, cocksucker critic types as the uncultured brutes we truly are. Yeah, jams like “Little Yellow Spider” and “Water May Walk” may sound suspiciously like nursery rhymes, but slagging Banhart is like beating up a retarded kid for lunch money. You'd kind of just rather give him a balloon or something.