Devendra Banhart
Cripple Crow


3.5
great

Review

by The Katz brothers USER (183 Reviews)
March 17th, 2006 | 19 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


Psychedelic- Of, Relating to, or causing abnormal psychic effects.

This is Merriam Webster’s definition of the word Psychedelic, a term describing, more or less a period of time when musicians began experimenting with acid and writing songs on or about it (see the Beatles, Grateful Dead, the Doors, and other assorted artists my Dad has records of) Psychedelic music has been generally seen as pop, but one things changed. Mostly with the band Butthole Surfers. It was a revolution in that an indie band could add psychedelic touches and still be punk. Other bands followed in this structure carrying it further and further ( see Flaming Lips, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) Now a young man named Devendra Banhart has decided to take Things even further by combining Folk with Indie and Psychedelic pop and touches of Bossa Nova.
Devendra’s sound is purely art. Hence the genre he is most labeled under, Art Folk. He is also widely responsible for the sub genre sprouting up all over the Midwest and California known as Freak Folk. Devendra’s beautifully mellow bi(tri)-lingual voice is the album’s best feature. The guitars are mediocre at best (though they work quite nicely and pick up a little towards the last half) and the Bossa Nova styled drums are rarely there, though when they are they are quite splendid. The same can be said for the string sections. Devendra’s voice can be ravaged and echoing (see Lazy Butterfly, Cripple Crow) and quiet and low on album opener, Now That I Know. The track is very solemn, but none the less fantastic. It begins with two guitar finger picking chords. As with all the tracks Devendra’s voice seems to be whispering in your ear, but far away at the same time. This is done by keeping the vocals the center of attention, but very soft and echoed.

The cellos on the album are another strong point. Beautifully toned if simple they bring new life to the most tired of songs. Devendra harmonizes well with the voice of a young woman in the short but inspired track Dragonflies.

Devendra’s songwriting has a quiet genius to it. Although the album has a few rip-off tracks on it (see Some People Ride the Wave or Maxwell’s Silver Hammer with different lyrics) many of the tracks are true gems. The album gets a new burst of Power with the genius title track Cripple Crow or When they Come as it’s called on earlier editions. The song’s lyrics hinder on a revolt and could possibly bring a tear to your eyes. The Acoustic guitars are beautifully played and the bongo’s play a crisp Bossa beat. A flute play along quietly with Devendra’s broken folksy voice. He has to have one of the creepiest vibratos of all time. The song seems to be stratistically placed after a few filler tracks. The next song is another Beauty, Ianiel features Devendra singing in Spanish or Yiddish, I can’t tell, accompanied by a weeping cello part. Easily one of the best song’s on the album, though I don’t quite understand the vocals (sounds like Ianiel Sees the Light) the song shows the beauty in sadness better than any half ass emo-punk could ever dream of (see the Used)

Hey Mama Wolf continues the streak of brilliance, with its wonderful bass part of ingenious vocal melody. Although it’s another Beatlesque track it has a fiddle part towards that end that even the fab four couldn’t pull off so nicely. Chinese Children is a straight up Blues track with a wonderful art-folk twist. The worst part of this track is the hilarious petifilish (or cannibalistic) lyrics. That album’s first guitar solo, though seeming a little out of place, goes off without a hitch.

One of the most intresting (read: creepy) tracks on the album is a 50’s folk ditty named Little Boys. Managing to give the album an even more petifilistic tone then before while remaining an established, artful peice of songwriting. But don’t fear kiddies. Devendra isn’t out for your cherry, he just hates Starbucks. Devendra claims he wrote the track to ensure the album wasn’t sold at Starbucks. With shady lyrics such as:

“In the shower, I get my dreaming done, Hold my breath I’ll wait for the day to come. Oh little Billy little Timmy little Jimmy you’re the one, I’ll try to stop looking, but I swear my heart is young when I see. So many little boys I want to marry."

Let's hope he's not lying. Throughout the album lyrics seem to be lifted from an old (circa 1800's) german children's tale, animals take the place of people, dark lyrics and lot's of children. Wheter Devendra is trying to teach our children a lesson from the olden days or is just a weird guy I'll never know, but the lyrics are frighteningly brilliant.

The last track is a another refreshingly good track outside the creepy filler tunes. Beginning with a soft Electric Piano line and calm vocals, Canela continues in the same vein. Thankfully the album ends on a (sort of) high note.

Pros:
Wonderful beats, guitars, strings and vocals.
Puts a fresh spin on the played out genre of Psychedelic Pop.

Cons:
Loads of filler

Overall: 3.5/5

-Joe



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user ratings (103)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
Stem/Long Stem (4)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
March 17th 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a decent album, but I think that it's to long. 'Anchor' 'Dragonflies' and 'Queen Bee' are the most memorable tracks off the album, and I dont find myself skipping through a lot of these tracks. I'd give this a strong 3.5/5.
Great review.

The Jungler
March 17th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Inaniel and Cripple Crow are my personal favorites, and your certainly right about the length. Theres much too much filler.

Thanks for the postive votes.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
March 17th 2006


2125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

This album is ridiculous. It beats even Illinois for having too much material.

I like it though.

STLMiguel
May 24th 2006


335 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The difference, though, is that Illinois is like one long song that you get tired of rather quickly and this, well, this thing doesn't get old. "Koreandogwood" is my favorite track.

The Jungler
May 24th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Is Illinois really that dull? I've been thinking about getting a Sujain album. Where should I start?

STLMiguel
May 24th 2006


335 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, everybody seems to love it, but I kind of became anti-Sufjan after buying it. And I wouldn't even say that Illinois is dull ... just 70 minutes of the same goddamn thing. His Michigan album is much better, I still like that one.

The Jungler
May 24th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thats the one I was thinking about getting, thanks for the comments.

FA
May 27th 2006


127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh, how I could listen to Devendras chattering, shivering vocals and his incredible finger-picking ability. Great review, but I think this album falls short of his others.

Liberi Fatali
Emeritus
May 30th 2006


1588 Comments


Only had a brief listen so far, but Inaniel seems to stick out. I'm digging it.

Sepstrup
May 30th 2006


1564 Comments


I borrowed this at a library but didn't listen to it because it was so long. Now I don't think I'm going to. Maybe I'll listen to the ones you say are stand-out tracks. I'll borrow a better Devendra album next time

MrKite
November 13th 2006


5020 Comments


I heard a song called Pumpkin Seeds that I really like by this band. It was so awesome. Great review.

mushroomhands
February 14th 2008


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think it's a great album. Devendra is my favorite singer. And I agree about that vibrato, it's enviable. I think he has a lot of great songs, but I wish he'd cut it down to maybe 16 songs for this album. Although, I'll admit, Devendra is one of those guys you just crave to know more about. He's interesting, so the extras from him may not be completely bad. I really love this guy. And it's good to hear the petifile lyrics were just to keep it out of starbucks. He's a lyrical genius though. And maybe he's not the best guitar player out there, but he's not bad, and his sometimes-sloppy fingerpicking is emotional. It works.

Other songs not on this album that rock:

Rejoicing in the Hands
Seahorse
Pumpkin Seeds
etc.

Kiran
Emeritus
January 21st 2009


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm loving this at the moment. "Little Boys", "Cripple Crow" and "Inaliel" are my favourites.

brutebeard
July 27th 2010


1655 Comments


"Devendra claims he wrote the track to ensure the album wasn�t sold at Starbucks."

hahaha so awesome.

Your band name-dropping worked well and your second-to-last paragraph was nice. Pos.

brutebeard
July 27th 2010


1655 Comments


"Devendra claims he wrote the track to ensure the album wasn�t sold at Starbucks."

hahaha so awesome.

Your band name-dropping worked well and your second-to-last paragraph was nice. Pos.

brutebeard
July 27th 2010


1655 Comments


"Devendra claims he wrote the track to ensure the album wasn�t sold at Starbucks."

hahaha so awesome.

Your band name-dropping worked well and your second-to-last paragraph was nice. Pos.

brutebeard
July 27th 2010


1655 Comments


sorry about that :/

Ishysez
August 27th 2012


70 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album would be a 4 for me if about 10-12 of the filler tracks were cut out. Now That I Know, Hey Mama Wolf, and Korean Dogwood are excellent.

skeames1214
March 30th 2013


2713 Comments


3.6? Damn. First listen, and I like it a lot. I don't mind a couple pleasant sounding filler tracks. I'm just letting myself get caught up in the mood.



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