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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Iron and Wine vs. Devendra Banhart

I have to take issue with this article from Nude as the News.

Problem One:
'Still, it's difficult to describe in any specific or tangible terms what separates Banhart from Iron and Wine, though perhaps they're not quantitatively different. Perhaps the difference is simply that Nino Rojo was made by a Texan with an Indian name who was raised in a Caracas slum, and that it's got that indescribable something that can make the line "I wanna live in Jamaica blah blah blah blah blah blah" seem meaningful and important.'

No need to prop this album up for cultural reasons (it's trad folk) or, more insidiously, to exoticize the performer.

Problem Two:
'where Iron and Wine is wallowing its own lifelessness, Banhart is jumping with life and possibility.'

Nothing about I&W is lifeless. Slow and quiet, yes, but not lifeless. It's a lovely and complex album full of restraint. Banhart has some of those qualities, too -- moreso on this album than on his last one -- but he's not nearly the lyricist or performer that Sam Beam is. It's also a big critical mistake to judge I&W's restraint and melancholy through a lens that's focused on Banhart's jumpingness and energy. Despite both acts being from the same loose genre, the artists are really doing different things.


Blogger Rick said...

While I agree with you that Iron and Wine is not lifeless, it does not have the same vivid delivery and quirks that make Devendra Banhart so enjoyable.

That said, I think both are excellent and actually prefer These Numbered Days to Rejoicing in the Hands. The songs have a better flow and are more cohesive.


3:14 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

Hi, Rick. I agree that "vivid" and "quirky" are more apt descriptors of Banhart's style, and I think that comes out more on Nino Rojo than on Rejoicing in the Hands.

Btw, everyone else should head over to Rick's blog for a link to the stream of the freakfolk compilation that Banhart put together for Arthur magazine. Some of the tracks have been down today, but it looks like a nice disc.

10:00 AM  

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