Devendra Banhart, a fitting name for a psychedelic, folk, almost freaky, singer/songwriter. His hippie background really carved a future for his music, as his parents were the clich" hippies: anti-establishment, anti-authority and striving for a healthy and, shall I say, hippy lifestyle. Shivering, chattering vocals and an acoustic guitar drive Banhart's music and if you've ever seen Banhart sing live, you know he is surely a hippie and a lover of music. After watching Banhart on live video, he looks like he may be having a seizure while singing or maybe he just has something stuck in his gums or between his teeth. His long fingers pluck and strum his folk-tempo tunes, with the occasional drum set knocking in the background. It's almost hard to place Banhart in a genre with other artists; due to the uniqueness of his music and his vocals, it's where most people get confused as to what sound to label him. The sound coming from your speakers may sound like it's been recorded 40 years previous to when it was actually released. Banhart has a gift, or I should say obsession, with lo-fi machines for recording his music; he's been known to record into an answering machine. His spiritual lyrics and melodies drag you into the music and make you wish you were dancing with slow rolling arms in a field laced with rose petals and incense.
Nino Rojo is filled with a love for animals and childhood innocence. Although Banhart almost pushes his lyrics and sound to near-disturbing, he keeps his innocents and silliness in tact. This album is filled with tracks you'd listen too while having an evening drink, or an afternoon lazy-fest by your lonesome self. The album opens with a cover of Ella Jenkins' "Wake Up, Little Sparrow", where Banhart chatters about a lone bird, deserted by his friends, who've flown south for the winter, and by the end of the track his vibrating vocals turn to a near whisper. Banhart's love for animals continues in "Little Yellow Spider", which, if edited the tiniest bit, could be turned into a wonderful children's folk anthem. His proclamation in "all of the animals" drags on in his gospel-esque praise between each animal recognition stanza.
If someone were to tell me they thought Devendra's lyrics were unusual and almost freaky, I would agree with them 100%. Song titles like: "Horseheadedfleshwizard" can spit out seriously wicked lyrics.
I put the ovaries in my mouth
And all the dogs won't die
And the devil will call, the cats home
And he looks up to the sky
Banhart doesn't hold anything back in his raw and original new breed of musical styling. I do believe, that he may at first be almost impossible
to get used too, or at least be able to listen to a couple songs in sequential order, but after you break the surface, it becomes easy listening and interesting. His lullabies in Nino Rojo embrace you in his long, skinny, hippie arms and reel you in with seizuring movements and vibrating vocals. "Water May Walk" is about as close to a lullaby as you'll get without it being published in a children's nighttime book, considering you remove one or two of the disturbing lines he places at the end of each verse. Nino Rojo might fall short of Devendra's previous albums, if you're considering a freak-folk
genre of music, but I see this album as an attempt to broaden his musical horizons.