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    aught music: 2004: "we all know" by devendra banhart

    So 2004 brought us a bunch of records from personalities who seemed like a cast of characters emerging from some mouldering storybook universe: Joanna Newsom's wizened elf-princess, CocoRosie's creepy quasi-Victorian ghost sisters, and Devendra Banhart's lusty, bearded... gnome? Respective roles aside, one thing that's immediately apparent as soon as any of them open their mouths is that all of them, in their own ways, are staking out some piece of territory halfway between babbling child and croaking elder-thing, and none of them are doing this by way of settling in the middle-ground of conventional adulthood.

    This approach was certain to annoy anyone with a low tolerance for quirk, but I've always had a strong attraction to High Weirdness, and consequently I think Newsom's Milk-Eyed Mender, CocoRosie's La Maison De Mon Reve, and Banhart's pair of 2004 albums (Rejoicing in the Hands and Nino Rojo) are four of the greatest albums of the decade. Each of them have their own strengths: Newsom's album is the one with the most lyrical complexity and metric inventiveness, and CocoRosie's is the one most willing to engage with the actual musical present (via the use of drum machines and electronic toys). But the two from Banhart remain my favorites of the group, in part because of the sheer hook-y goodness of the song-writing, and in part because the world-view Banhart puts forth is the one that most closely resembles what I like to think of as my own. On these two discs, the world is repeatedly presented as fundamentally polymorphous, mutable, erotic, holy, and joyous—check out, for instance, the track "We All Know," one track which comes pretty close to hitting each of those points.

    We belong to the floating hand that's made from some animals

    Listen: Devendra Banhart >> "We All Know"

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    Saturday, September 05, 2009
    10:59 PM


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