not a member? click here to sign up

Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon

With big choruses, pristine production values, sing-alongs, and much lovelorn balladry could it be that Devendra Banhart is about to cross over?

Rating: 8 / 10

Colin Carberry, 01 Nov 2007

We should be grateful that Devendra Banhart has hitherto displayed little in the way of careerist nous. Not content with looking like one of the Brazil squad from the ‘82 World Cup, or being hailed as a genius by such luminaries as Vashti Bunyan and Antony Hegarty, when the mood takes him, the Venezuelan-raised prankster is also capable of channelling the liberationist spirit of Tropicalismo while nodding simultaneously in the direction of both Bert Jansch and Marc Bolan. In fact the so-called ‘new folk Jesus’ ticks so many boxes you’d have to hate him, if he wasn’t so dependably slack.

Stand this hyperactive bundle of fuzzy-logic and solar-powered talent beside the mordant slew of singer-songwriters/neo-buskers currently polluting our airwaves, and the effect on the general populace would be jarring. And to be fair, with his penchant for loose, bongo-led wig-outs, and on-stage mystical pronouncements, he’s about as likely to be invited on Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway as Harold Pinter. As you’d perhaps expect of someone who began wearing a turban through customs after 9/11, however, garnering popular acceptance is way down Dev’s list of day-to-day priorities. Not when there are pagan deities to write about, or obscure tribal rhythms to explore.

But give Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon a play – and all of a sudden a very strange prospect looms into view. With big choruses, pristine production values, sing-alongs, and much lovelorn balladry – with Beatles-esque flourishes and shit-hot stoner rock crescendos aplenty – with, in short, tunes like ‘Sea Side’, ‘Rosa’ and ‘The Other Woman’ to simply fall over and die for – could it be that Devendra Banhart, beard and all, is about to cross over?

After hearing that, some fans may fear that ...Thunder Canyon is a creative short back and sides; they shouldn’t worry – if anything it’s just benefited from a much-needed and highly flattering wash, comb-through and trim. Deliriously inventive and coursing with good natured fun and playfulness (check out the way ‘Sea Horse’ mutates from Dave Brubeck to QOTSA in one effortless swoop; or the doo-wop oddity ‘Shabor Shalom’), it’s still full of endearing hippy bollocks. It’s the irritating hippy bollocks that’s been given the push.

The record’s cast-list includes actor Gael Garcia Bernal (‘Cristobal’), Chris Robinson of The Black Crows (‘Samba Vexillographica’) and Strokes’ guitarist Nick Valensi (‘Shabop Shalom’), but it’s Banhart’s presence that dominates proceedings. In some other universe he’s perhaps the biggest rock star on the planet. ...Thunder Canyon offers the crazily unlikely prospect of his tilting for the title here on Earth.

Rating: 8 / 10
Artist Related Content

Latest Related Articles For This Artist

WATCH: Trippy new Devendra Banhart video

Devendra Banhart has come up with a “two ducks embedded in the seedy, trippy world of Hollywood” video for ‘Taurobolium’, one of the standouts from his Mala album.

News: 03 Dec 2013

Devendra Banhart for Dublin summer show

He'll tour his newly released Mala record this June at Dublin's Button Factory...

News: 25 Mar 2013

Devendra Banhart: Mala

Wonderfully off-the-wall collection from unclassifiable artist...

REVIEW: 15 Mar 2013

Devendra Banhart

Following the pleasant picking and low-voiced crooning of Bristol's Rozi Plain, a shorn Devendra Banhart takes to the stage and takes his soaring tremolo voice on a genre tour.

REVIEW: 28 Jun 2010

Devendra Banhart plays the Button Factory

Those with a cast iron constitution should also check out his new video!

News: 26 Apr 2010

best of ireland

Contact Us

Hot Press,
13 Trinity Street,
Dublin 2.
Rep. Of Ireland
Tel: +353 (1) 241 1500

Click here for more contact information.

Click here to find out more about Hot Press

Hot Press always welcomes feed back so if you've got something to tell us click here.

Advertise With Us

For more detail on how to advertise with Hot Press click here or call us on +353 (1) 241 1540