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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    CD Reviews

    Devendra Banhart’s music takes effort to enjoy.

    His newest album, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, is another lengthy affair featuring hippie-friendly folk jams. Weighing in at 16 full-length tracks, the new album contains more acoustic guitar and surreal chanting than even Banhart’s fans can deal with.

    The record is a perfect example of freak folk, a genre that’s grown in popularity partly in thanks to Banhart. Finally, a phony pseudo-genre lives up to its name.

    Still, Thunder Canyon has moments where it wins big. One example is “”Shabop Shalom,”” a ’50s pop throwback with a “”Twilight Zone”” tinge. It’s almost as if Banhart went back in time and slipped some peyote in Ritchie Valens’ milkshake. Nick Valensi of The Strokes contributes to the catchy, yet creepy, song.

    “”Lover”” echoes some of Banhart’s previous material like “”I Feel Just Like A Child”” with a smooth groove that reggae fans could get down to. Banhart is definitely at his best when his songs are structured around his band’s dirty electric guitar and vocal harmonies.

    “”I wanna be your lover/ I wanna be your man,”” he croons on the track.

    Funky bass, hand claps and la-la-la’s make “”Lover”” an overall entertaining song. Folk music, even freak folk, can be fun!

    Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
    Devendra Banhart- Beggars XI Recording
    3 1/2 stars

    Sadly, there are some songs that are definitely not fun. “”So Long Old Bean”” and “”Bad Girl”” are slightly boring and repetitive at times. Old fans of Banhart might feel like it’s his previous material rehashed.

    This is where the effort comes in to play. You have to struggle through its lesser moments to fully enjoy its best tracks. Sadly, listening to the entire album might only be possible in certain circumstances like late nights of studying or of more illicit activities.

    Thankfully Banhart’s live show makes for a much more interesting experience. It’s one thing to listen to his recordings, but actually seeing the man and his band perform them is a treat. Dressed in eccentric garb while strutting an impressive beard, Banhart fits the freak folk persona.

    Expect him and his band to dish out equal helpings of acoustic folk songs and freak-out jam sessions. When Banhart begins strumming his tunes, the vibe of the room chills out. In contrast to Banhart’s records, his live shows are nearly effortless to enjoy.

    Devendra Banhart rolls through Tucson next week, performing at the Rialto Theatre on Oct.10. Tickets are $21 in advance for the all-ages show. Doors open at 7 p.m.

    Patrick Valenzuela

    I always admired that Faith Hill was never really afraid to go a little bit country and a little bit pop. She has constantly been compared to Shania Twain, but Hill could probably still win in a fistfight against Twain on most days of the week.

    The Hits, Hill’s latest, has a promising compilation of some old songs, such as “”Piece of My Heart”” from 1994’s Take Me As I Am, and some newer songs like “”I Need You,”” on which Hill collaborates with her hot hunk of man, Tim McGraw.

    One gripe I did have with the album, even before listening to it, was that the back of the CD case doesn’t have the songs listed in the correct order that they play on the CD.

    Aside from that minor issue, the album contains a lot of songs that Hill is quite famous for, such as “”The Way You Love Me”” and “”Cry,”” which are always good sing-and-drive-a-long songs.

    The Hits
    Faith Hill – Warner Bros. Nashville
    3 stars

    The first track of the album, “”Red Umbrella,”” was the only song that elicited a shoulder shrug from me, even though it is her unreleased, new hit. You can tell that Hill is trying to creep into a transitional style between country and pop, but I am not entirely sure that this song is going to win her a spot in the pop genre quite yet.

    Nicky Hamila

    Club Asylum favorite and Tucson group Alter der Ruine should have electronic-industrial fans moving with its latest album, State of Ruin. The band has been working together for the past year to comprise a collection of tracks best suited for its new record deal with the independent Sistinas Music label.

    The album’s second track, “”Coppin’ it Sweet,”” really pulls in the listener with its trance-like beat and rush of static noise. Mostly instrumental, the music pulsates and the intensity increases with slight sound variations thrown in as curveballs.

    “”Elevator Noise”” follows, and emphasizes the drum machine with quick and heavy bass. Industrial fans will appreciate the tune for its ease and fluidity.

    Overall, State of Ruin is a solid mix of Alter der Ruine’s finest contributions to the rarely recognized industrial and experimental scene.

    State of Ruin
    Alter der Ruine – Sistinas Music
    3 1/2 stars

    Laura Hassett

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