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+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
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+ Cex - Actual Fucking
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+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
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+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
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+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
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44.1 kHz Archive

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Devendra Banhart
Niño Rojo
Young God

When Devendra Banhart's Rejoicing in the Hands was released in May, it received almost universal acclaim. The wonderfully eccentric songsmith was crowned poster boy (and pin-up boy) of the folk-revival revival, a nebulous "movement" that found numerous outsider-folk types crossing over to popularity in the early ought-four, Banhart the most popular amongst a friendly set — including Joanna Newsom, Currituck Co., CocoRosie, Vetiver, and even Sufjan Stevens — who all issued albums around the same time. Four months on, and the times they are a-changin', so much so that already those with a keen sense of pop-cultural smell can sense the backlash coming, this being about as long as you can expect a movement to reign in this message-board era. Banhart's aware of it, too, already calling out this music — the music he plays, the music we love — as having become trendy, spitting that word at me (in a bar bathroom in Sacramento) like leading this revival might be starting to drag, the great weight weighing down on a bearded boy whose frame is mighty slight. If the quickly-spent currency of cool had anything to do with quality, and the folk-revival revival needed a killer new disc from Devendra to keep it on top, I don't think Niño Rojo delivers; it's easily the least convincing album from the three Banhart's offered thus far. It's not like the second record culled from those Rejoicing… sessions is lacking in magical moments, though. There's "We All Know," where Banhart's da-dum-da-da-dums lead a exultant procession; "Be Kind," which is belted out with a rockband lust unheard in the Banhart pantheon; and, notably, the genial "At the Hop," with its genius refrains of "Put me in your dry-dream/ Put me in your wet/ If you haven't yet" and "Put me in your tongue-tie/ Make it hard to say/ That you ain't gonna stay." Where it comes up short is in the quality control across its 16 songs. Given that the 23-year-old troubadour has released 64 (or so) songs unto the world in the space of 18 months, it's not surprising that Banhart's particular peculiarities — that tremorous voice, that tenuous fidelity, his heightened spirit — are no longer papering over the "misses" on this disc.

by Anthony Carew

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