Devendra Banhart has launched his personal website (DevendraBanhart.com) today and with it comes a plethora of new material from him. Two new songs “Seahorse” and “So long old bean” are streaming over there now; both of which have their lyrics handwritten on a separate page. Seahorse seems to bounce around in the beginning between both the Van and Jim Morrison realm before breaking out in the end to a full blown Devendra jam. Me gusta mucho. I can only assume that this is one of the songs Devendra penned while he was out on a boat traveling to Catalina. The songs maritime chorus, “I want to be a little seahorse,” evokes the feeling of a contemplative and lost fisherman out at sea, with the vocals welling up in all directions before eventually crashing inwards towards his boat in a sea of electric waves. The second song, “So long old bean” sees Devendra tapping into Roy Orbisons alien vocal stylings and the Who’s “We’ll soon be home” bridge of A Quick One/While he’s away where the percussion is turned into the clip-clop of a horse against the backdrop of the desert. While Devendra can sometimes wear his influences on his sleeve, he always makes the songs his own. Never merely drawing from a single era for inspiration and always adding his own unique flourishes, his final compositions never sound pastiche or god forbid retro. I think this comes out of his being influenced by the artists that influenced the artists of the 60’s, rather than just the first step so many artists fall into. When Devendra said he never listened to early Marc Bolan before he started playing, he very well may have been speaking the truth… there’s plenty of vibrato heavy blues singers who predate and (gasp) influenced Bolan himself. Know your history and it will show, Devendra certainly exemplifies this and I think it’s what gives his music that original and timeless sound. All I know is that there’s very few if any other artists out there right now who could sing “I want to be a little seahorse” and so thoroughly convince me that I would like to be one as well. The entire website features new artwork by Devendra Banhart throughout and also now includes an unofficial video for the new song “Seahorse,” which is more of a “behind-the-scenes peek into the recording of “Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon,” Devendra, his band, and Topanga where the album was made” than a final video. Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon September 25th on XL.
Seahorse video on youtube(Keep an eye out for an appearance by a one Gael García, whom Devendra sings a duet with on the album):
Full line up of the Family appearing on Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon:
Devendra: vocals, guitars, piano, cuatro, ukelele, percussion, shruti box, psaltery,
noah: guitars, vocals, bass, organ, piano, wurlitzer, percussion, charango, bandoura, shruti box.
Rodrigo Amarante: guitars, vocals, percussion, shruti box, melodica, bass.
Luckey Remington: bass, acoustic guitar, percussion, vocals.
Pete Newsom: Piano, Wurlitzer, percussion, drum kit, vocals.
Greg Rogove: Drum kit, percussion, duck call, vocals.
Andy Cabic: Vocals, acoustic guitar.
Vashti Bunyan: Vocals on ‘Seahorse’, and ‘Loneliness’.
Linda Perhacs: Vocals on ‘Freely’
Matteah Baim: vocals on ‘Loneliness’
Maxine Waters, Julie Waters, Monalisa: Backing Vocals on Saved:
Horns: you got dis already
Nathan Pelkey: Kalimba, insect vocals.
Benjamin Goodman: Drum kit, percussion
Boat provided by: Beau Raymond
AND special guests
Strings performed by The Section Quartet:
Eric Gorfain, violin
Daphne Chen, violin
Leah Katz, viola
Richard Dodd, cello