Most Anticipated Album of 2013: Mala by Devendra Banhart

Photo credit: his babe of a Serbian photographer/designer wife, Ana Kras

If you don’t yet know, I’m really obsessed with Devendra Banhart. I briefly hint to him on the music show I picked out songs for (which if you haven’t listened to: what are you doing?! Episode 115.5), I email Zach anytime new news comes up concerning him, and I’ve got a tattoo dedicated to the man and his music. That’s musical love, right there. So the announcement of his much anticipated new album Mala to debut March 12th is a really big deal for me.

Can we just talk about how beautiful he is for a second?

This is Devendra’s eighth studio album and first since 2009’s underwhelming What Will We Be. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy “Rats” and “Maria Lionza”… but they had to grow on me. The fact that the album was released on Warner Brothers seems to have crushed a lot of the whimsy that comes with Devendra’s music. Even the album before that, 2007’s Smoky Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, showed a switch to a more heavily produced pop-ish sound for Devendra.

Mala is coming out on Nonesuch Records, which is still a subset of Warner Brothers, but is home to artists such as Iron and Wine, The Black Keys, David Byrne, and Bjork. Hopefully this subtle switch will allow for more creativity, although in interviews Devendra responded to claims that he was selling out by saying that WB was actually really open to all of his creative desires. I know many Devendra fans like myself are hoping for more of the raw musical energy from his early albums. While I appreciate and understand that artists have to grow and adapt over the years, I think that the sound he brings to songs like “At The Hop”, “Sight to Behold”, and “Quedate Luna” is the reason a lot of us fell in love with him.

A few of the songs are already on YouTube to listen to before the release:

Für Hildegard von Bingen

Echoey vocals and guitars reminiscent of The XX almost, infused with electronic elements – this song is a little far off from what we’re used to with Devendra, but it works for me, I think.

Never Seen Such Good Things

This song is a fun little tune, that seems to be a bit of a love song. Its got hints of that lovely vibrato, a cute danceable beat, and some off the wall lyrics that we’ve come to love.

Mi Negrita

Spanish style guitars, a song about hopeless love. Beautiful and so very true to Devendra.

The album is produced and recorded by Devendra and bandmate, Noah Georgeson. They played most of the instruments themselves and recorded it on a vintage Tascam recorder; they utilized their environment as much as possible to create the rare sounds in the album. Which, according to an interview with Pure Channel, included such things as a switchblade, a chain, and a belt.

So if you don’t know Devendra Banhart, I highly suggest you familiarize yourself with him. His music has changed my life in a way that I cannot say any other thing has. I cannot wait for this album, and no matter what I will love and support him always. A tour has yet to be announced, but he’ll hopefully be making the rounds in the Spring/Summer! Pre-order Mala on CD and vinyl here: http://www.nonesuch.com/albums/mala. Both include an autographed print, instant download of “Für Hildegard von Bingen”, and a download of the whole album on March 12th. The LP also comes with the full CD, a poster, and a 7” with two bonus tracks.

Drunken Discourse, “The Flamer”

Mr. and Mrs. Claus rolled up to the party in style

So I was trying to think of what to write, lately my life has been composed mostly of work and university. I am a host at a late night diner/bar in Charlotte, so needless to say we attract a lot of drunks and they often say some really hilarious things to me since I’m the first person they get to talk to. And as someone who does not drink much, I’m often the only sober one at a party to remember the funny things people say; so I decided to start writing about all the funny drunk conversations that happen to me.

So the other night, the neighborhood I live and work in was having a Holiday block party with a tattooed Santa Claus and guys on banjo singing Jingle Bells. This is where I encountered a man who I will forever know as “The Flamer”, which you will understand later.

My relationship with him began when I was standing at the host stand minding my own business rolling silverware sets as a woman comes in frantically and asks that I tell her husband that their daughter’s teeth are bleeding, “he’s the guy at the bar with the flame toboggan on”. So as requested, I run up to the man to tell him the news, to see him double fisting two PBR tall boys after finishing a shot of whiskey. He mumbled something about his daughter and eventually went outside to tend to the matter, although I’m not really sure that he did anything to help the poor girl.

I thought I was done with him, until a little later he stumbled in the door to stop at my host stand. He “pounded it” and introduced himself, then proceeded to ramble on about how rare it is in life that we meet people that are “cool” and that it was his pleasure meeting me because I’m awesome and pretty, or something along those lines, then suggested that he himself was not cool. Being the most awkward human being and a fan of lame wordplay, I said “well, I mean, your hat has flames on it, that’s definitely like, the opposite of cool.” As the words were coming out I realized that not only was what I was saying not funny at all, there was also no way of explaining it without hitting on him or offending him. I decided to hope that he just wouldn’t catch on to my sideways jab at his fashion sense and would instead laugh at my lame attempt at a joke, but in anger he stormed off to the bar grumbling, “I can’t help it, I’m just a flamer, okay!”

A Lollapalooza Review, Just a Few Months Late

Let me start off by saying that I went to Lollapalooza last year for the 20th anniversary. Ruined a pair of shoes in the mud, got run over by an asshole in a wheel-chair, and lost my iPhone to water damage when the unexpected rain fell and I had nothing to put my phone in. There were a lot of people, and I swore that festivals are just not for me, I’d much rather go to a small show where people are more in it for the love of a particular artist than for the festival experience of getting on the waste and humping random people.

But, then they released the 2012 lineup. I was charmed by a bunch of my “must-see” artists like Sigur Ros, The Shins, Bloc Party, Metric, The Black Angels, The Growlers, and Bowerbirds playing in the same place in one weekend. So I bought tickets. But they were sold out of regular passes, so I splurged on the “Travel Package”. Last year, stayed at the Parthenon Hostel, which was the worst. The grumpy Greek man yelled at me for touching my own piece of toast when grabbing it from the toaster at breakfast, and the walk was pretty annoying after a day of being herded around Grant Park. This year with the travel package, I was really stoked about getting to stay at the Intercontinental Hotel on the Magnificent Mile. Overall the travel package was a win. Checked into the hotel and they give you your tickets, a pair of posters and T-shirts, and two $50 car vouchers for the weekend, which we should have used but we didn’t really go anywhere far enough to warrant a cab.

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