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Devendra Banhart
Oh Me Oh My…
Young God Records


 

"The ugly may be beautiful. But the pretty, never." goes a line by Tom Robbins. Oh Me Oh My presents dark acoustic folk with imperfect and pretty guitar work. Scratchy homemade production takes away nothing but pretense. It adds a layer of authenticity to Banhart's weird, warbled Billie Holiday vocals. The vocals are doubled, but intentionally out of sync and tune. Like a reflection in a cracked mirror, the image is all the more fascinating. At times Banhart brings to mind Nina Simone without the alcohol, and also seems to be to folk what Diamanda Galas is to classical. The back-scratching tension is exciting but not off-putting, heightening the awareness. Gentle pieces insert a mellow mood that only set up another opportunity to drag you through another field of thorns. It's at this point that my policy of ignoring press packets is rewarded. Halfway through the album it becomes apparent that the chick in The Crying Game is a dude!

Those songs where Banhart's gender shows through have a lot to do with a modern folk movement that includes underground underdogs Herman Jolly and Jim Greer. Sweet high tones that hits more on honesty than accuracy. A lot of play with dynamics and varied intensity compliment curious lyrics. "Next came their profession and a paper colored purr. An umber armed albino and the crowd began to stir." Along with accidental background noises like dropped books and cars driving by, the purposeful mistakes create an attractive organic scene. His richly covetous fingerpicking style is gorgeous. The album offers a twisted, disturbed, irresistible path. It touches on my struggle with convention to make something recognizable and yet not quite right. Possessing the ability to live up to a societal standard for beauty he opts instead for a soothing, grating masterpiece.

On a scale of cinemized Tom Wolfe novels:
One being The Right Stuff, and ten being Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, Oh Me Oh My rates a 9 - Bonfire Of The Vanities.

-Ewan Wadharmi

Track Listing

1. Tick Eats the Olive
2. Roots (If The Sky Were a Stone)
3. The Charles C. Leary
4. Nice People
5. Animals In My Play
6. Cosmos and Demos
7. Michigan State
8. Lend Me Your Teeth
9. Miss Cain
10. Soon Is Good
11. Tell Me Something
12. The Red Lagoon
13. Gentle Soul
14. Happy Happy Oh
15. Pumpkin Seeds
16. Thumbs Touch Too Much
17. Legless Love
18. Marigold
19. Make It Easier
20. Donal and Colter
21. Little Monkey
22. The Spirit is Near

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Mike Doughty



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