7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2002
This collection of songs, apparently, was never meant to be released as an album. They were recorded by Devendra Banhart, at his home with an acoustic guitar, and were simply intended to be demos.
That is pretty apparent - this album does not sound like it was recorded professionally, because it wasn't. On most of the songs, the background tape hiss is very noticeable, and a lot of the songs sound half-completed (meaning they come an end rather abruptly).
That said though, Mr. Banhart has a very distinctive sound. His voice can only be described as unique - a sort of manic caterwaul, which on occasion stops just short of being downright creepy. On the song "Nice People..." he sounds worryingly anxious to impress on the listener that "they *certainly are* nice people".
When he keeps his mad falsetto in check, though, he really can sing. On songs such as "The Charles C. Leary", "Animals..." and "Cosmos and Demos" he crafts beautiful melodies, laden with wonderful lyrics that paint vivid pictures of "people with their paws" and "snails with their slow".
In conclusion, if you like music sounds slightly different to your average fare then you really won't go far wrong with this record. It sounds very different indeed. But in a good way.
This is one of my favourite albums of 2002, and hopefully we'll be hearing a lot more from Devendra Banhart in the future.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2003
These are Godforsaken times. With everybody being completely pre-occupied with PopIdol and Eminem being considered a poet (go figure that one out) it's getting difficult to take anything seriously. But no fear! There are still people out there who give a damn! There are still people out for whom there is more on the horizon! Devendra Banhart is such a person.
DB took his dictaphone and his old guitar and started to record some demos. Michael Gira (Swans) heard these and decided they were too good not to be heard by the rest of the world. Give the man a medal! This is a truly inspiring and original disc!
You have to be able to handle DB's strange choirboy-gone-mad kind of voice. It's an androgynous voice that can turn you nuts or makes you fall in love with it. Sometimes it sounds sad, sometimes sweet, sometimes downright scary. But it remains very powerful throughout the album. It is DB's strongest weapon.
I hope we are gonna hear a lot more from DB in the future.
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2003
Ever felt tired of commercial, slickly-produced rock. Ever wanted something more rough around the edges. Look no further for there is a new challenger to the lo-fi throne.
Before even listening to the album it's not too difficult to gather that the album may be a little strange. Just a look at the album title and the full titles of many of the tracks give an indication of Banhart's mindset. 'The Thumbs Touch Too Much' and 'Lend Me Your Teeth' are not the kind of song titles you would expect on a Nickelback album. Indeed this feeling is only enhanced by actually listening to the album, which before going any further must be declared as the most unexpected oddity of 2002. And what a joy it is.
Over the course of 22 tracks Banhart weaves a considerable variety of emotions and themes together to create an album with genuine intimacy. Swinging from sweet story-teller (Soon is Good, Michigan State) to creepy shouter of ambiguous phrases (Nice People, Lend Me Your Teeth), Banhart makes every minute of the album worthwhile. Many of the lyrical images he conjures are too surreal to have far-reaching significance to the audience yet somehow one can relate to making 'soup out of pumpkin seeds' and having a friend who possesses your 'favourite teeth' which 'bend backward when she breathes'.
Exactly how Banhart makes these nonsensical messages have an emotive presence is not really clear but certainly his voice goes a long way. At points it is nothing more than a screech, but when he knuckles down it really shines and he can float into falsetto with the best of them. Also, the fact that he uses everything at his disposal to add to the effect (hand-claps, whistles) really gives the listener an impression of the intensity with which he works.
Though this is nothing more than Banhart's home and travel recordings there is a great deal here. Time will tell whether he can cut it as an in-studio talent, the ultimate fear is that the rare beauty and intimacy will be lost with slick production.
Either way, I will be awaiting his next with great anticipation. So should you be.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2004
this album is special
ive listened to it just the once and i love it straight away
the guitar playing is simple and very beautiful and devendras voice is something else entirely, a little strange and certainly unique to anything ive heard before. i could certainly envision devendra being born in the wrong time as i think this is truly suited to late 60s/early 70's, im glad its around now though and i would love to witness this man playing a live show
buy the album, i couldnt recommend it more
the ltd vinyl version is nice to own for a little extra cash
im so looking forward to getting the rest of this mans work and also try to get ahold of the compilation he has put together on the bastet label
this is something very special and lovley