Ever listen to an album that just sucks you in?
Devendra Banhart’s newest release, What Will We Be, which is his label debut for Warner Brother’s, may do just that.
Album: What Will We Be
Record Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: October 27, 2009
Fans of Banhart will be content with the upbeat yet eclectic tunes along with funkier tracks and peaceful pieces as well. For those who are first time listeners of his work, one may be a bit confused at first with the span of musical skills ranging from a song intro which simulates the sounds of a jazz standard to folksy ballads, but ultimately intrigued, and in some cases, blown away.
Songs like “Angelika” and “Baby” are not only uplifting, but have interesting lyrics-any song that incorporates ‘holy moly’, ‘choo choo train’, ‘kangaroo’ and ‘goofy’, while still making lyrical sense gets a plus in musical expression.
In terms of catchiness, while the whole album is indeed memorable, tracks like “16th & Valencia” and “Rats” certainly stand out. The first starting out with a drumbeat reminiscent of early 60s rock, turns into a pop-like tune with a funky bass line and smooth guitar melody, while the latter, “Rats”, utilizes
one of the grooviest bass lines one may have heard in a while. Haunting vocals, similar to that of Jim Morrison and Iron Butterfly carry the tune along with a unique guitar riff.
On the other hand, the two back to back tracks, “First Song for B” and “Last Song for B” are clever and powerful.
“First Song” draws you in with an ethereal crescendo, then transforms with distant percussion, while piano and vocals reverberate in the forefront. Lines like “Now I take everything as a good sign/ because I’m in love”, are emphasized by the piano melody, and the track ends with a strong outro.
“Last Song” incorporates a creative sound design and produces beautiful imagery, all the while producing the exact emotions of what the lyrics describe.
Both tracks truly express what words cannot alone, and are somewhat cinematic in their composition.
While it may be easy to try and compare Banhart to artists such as Cat Stevens or Simon and Garfunkel on tracks such as “Angelika” and “Goin’ Back to the Place”, or The Doors for aforementioned tracks such as “Rats”, this isn’t an artists trying to imitate or recreate an era of music. We’ve all heard that with artists trying to recreate the musical styles of the Grateful Dead or Led Zeppelin, and its never as effective as creating one’s own style. One can most certainly say that with the different genres and world music influences winding their way into this album, that this is something unique in of itself.
The album, which was co-produced by Paul Butler, includes Banhart on vocals and guitar; Noah Georgeson (producer of Banhart’s last two albums) on guitar and backing vocals, Greg Rogove (Priestbird) on drums and backing vocals; Luckey Remington (The Pleased) on bass and vocals and Rodrigo Amarante (Los Hermanos, Little Joy) on guitar and backing vocals.
Devendra Banhart moved with his parents to live in Venezuela at an early age., then moved to California during his teenage years, where he first became involved in music. Banhart studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, then traveled from San Francisco to cities such as Los Angeles, Paris, and New York City, before moving back to Los Angeles, where he currently resides.