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