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    Friday, January 28, 2005

    1. Devendra Banhart: Rejoicing in the Hands / Niño Rojo

    Release two stellar albums in the same year: I guess that's one way to get yourself to #1. My first opinion of Devendra emerged when I repeatedly listened to his debut Oh Me Oh My.... Maybe it was the lo-fi recording quality, but I walked away with an image of a scary, angry little man. Like an evil Tiny Tim; someone I never wanted to meet in a dark alley.

    Two new albums and a few live shows later, I have an entirely different perspective of the man. He seems kind and almost fragile. With these two new records this year, he's opened up his sound and no longer seems to be huddled in the corner of his bedroom with his 4-track rolling. Recorded simultaneously, Rejoicing in the Hands and Niño Rojo show off Devendra as a captivating and playful artist who seems to pull new tunes out of the air all the time. Over the last two years, he's recorded roughly 132 songs -- did I mention he did this before he turned 23?

    Devendra certainly appears to be an eccentric. His live shows can be a surprise as he melds songs together and makes up new lyrics on the spot. But that's what makes his music so compelling. He's operating on his own terms. His unconventional approach and abstract musings will ultimately leave you wanting more. Buy Rejoicing in the Hands. Buy Niño Rojo.

    Devendra Banhart "Will Is My Friend" (from Rejoicing in the Hands)

    Devendra Banhart "At The Hop" (from Niño Rojo)