Devandra Banhart

Oh me oh my

The way the day goes by the sun is setting dogs are dreaming lovesongs of the Christmas spirit
Fans of quirky lo-fi singer/songwriters rejoice: There’s a new kid on the block. With a freaky, warbling voice that recalls cult artists such as Daniel Johnston, Marc Bolan and Syd Barrett, former San Franciscan Devandra Banhart (21 years old) has the latest “buzz album” from a closet/outsider artist. The sound is simple: He strums acoustic guitar solo along with his double-tracked, eerie falsetto that’s at turns warm and abrasive. The scratchy, dirty recording (you can hear birds and other “outside noise") accounts for some additional character—a fresh departure from today’s omnipresent clean, digital production.

A bi-coastal squatter, Banhart is now making a name for himself with his surreal, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. From his beautiful ode to Michigan: “my friend has my favorite teeth, they bend backwards when she breathes and whistles … if I sweat salt and the Earth sweats heat, Oh, Michigan State!” Or this, from a creepy love song to an ex-girlfriend: “does he love you too, like I love you? I know nature is beside me/ when he’s inside you, I feel it too.”

The mood here is like the pale glow of acid-drenched youth cavorting around a graveyard at dawn; indeed, "the ghost of electricity howls in the lines of [Banhart’s] face" and songs. If he can live through it, he might have a bright future ahead of him.