Devendra Banhart: ‘Mala’

Today the brand-spakin’-newest album from an old favorite was brought to my attention in the form of an NPR “First Listen” piece devoted to Devendra Banhart‘s ‘Mala.’ I think I discovered DB on the downloading-binge I went on after my laptop was stolen from my apartment in January 2007 and I had a full iTunes library to restock. (In fact, I’m quite sure I remember being in the library, presumably needing to work, when I first read the name in the “Favorite Music” blurb of one of my ex’s friends’ Facebooks whose taste I knew I could rely on. I guess not much has changed…)

I’d have to imagine I didn’t instantly take to all of the tracks I downloaded. While he has plenty of readily palatable tracks, his nasally voice, quirky style and lyrics, and sometimes starkly simple and repetitive guitar lines mean that some of his material can be more of an acquired taste. The more I listened and read up on him, however, the more I was endeared both to his work and him as a person. He’s Venezuelan, he dated Natalie Portman (and starred her in a video), he submitted one of the first T-shirt designs to the Yellow Bird project (at a time when I was quite sure I wanted a tattoo of a yellow bird! On account of that Bright Eyes song. And that other Bright Eyes song)… In a few months’ time I’d become so big an enthusiast as to feature “Santa Maria Da Feira” in the video I made to document my family’s vacation to Spain (the honor of honors, really). Oh and actually, more recently, I used “Chinese Children” in my Jiaxing video.

And… I’ll admit I haven’t really kept up with ol’ Devendra much beyond that. (Oh right, there was “Brindo.” Was there ever “Brindo”…) Which made it doubly exciting to come upon this new album, which is only really out on March 12. While he retains some of his old quirk and uniqueness I think this might be his most universally approachable album yet. If you haven’t listened to or been able to get into Devendra Banhart before I think this album might be the one that does it for you (and if you’re already a fan I don’t think you’ll be disappointed).

Check it out:

(Oh, and David Bowie also has a new album out? I guess that’s old news but I only found out yesterday haha. Haven’t had a chance to listen yet.)

And… oh, one last little thing.

On one of our trips to Koh Tao Wayne, Collette, and I made friends with an interesting trio on our dive boat: an American hair-stylist, an Australian artist, and a French video director in the middle of an adventure meandering from Australia to their respective homes, by way of Egypt, Europe, and Russia (don’t worry, I do know that Russia’s part of Europe. But that Russia’s only partly Europe?). We enjoyed their company and it’s been exciting to voyeuristically keep up with their antics via social media. And so today I learned that Nico (the French gentleman) directed a totally badass video for the French DJ crew Birdy Nam Nam. The song is called “Defiant Order,” and if you like ridiculous bike stunts on snowy French highways and/or ridiculous European dance music (Caleb’s reaction was, “Wow, that is easily the most European thing I’ve ever seen.” In a good way, I’m sure.) then you’re gonna want to click this photo:

Congratulations, Nico! You’re a star!

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