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What Will We Be

Devendra Banhart

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Album Review

Setting aside the grand orchestrations of Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, Devendra Banhart's What Will We Be is everything its predecessor was not: straight-forward, cleanly produced, consistently laid-back (to nearly Jack Johnson proportions), and free of ambition. Banhart enlists the same band as last time (Noah Georgeson, Greg Rogove, Luckey Remington, and Rodrigo Amarante), but hired production whiz Paul Butler, whose records with A Band of Bees are some of the most striking productions of the 2000s. The double-tracked vocals give the album the same air as Banhart's early four-track experiments, but there's no haunted quality, just an occasional hippie-dippie aside in his delivery. Recorded in Northern California, What Will We Be often has the same slacker sensibilities and scent of ocean breeze that Jack Johnson has made his name with (read: funky white-bread basslines and closely miked drums played with plenty of whisk). Banhart's persona emerges intact despite the mainstream sound, however, and What Will We Be becomes a pleasantly fresh album to follow the ponderous, sprawling Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon.

Biography

Born: 30 May 1981 in Houston, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Growing up in Caracas, Venezuela and Los Angeles, Devendra Banhart was always playing music and drawing. But it wasn't until his brief stay at the San Francisco Art Institute that the disciplines became his constant companions. With the encouragement of poet and SFAI professor Bill Berskon, Banhart began experimenting with all kinds of art. He also began recording songs around that same time, usually on shoddy, hand-me-down four-track machines. Brief, half-finished, or written in stream-of-consciousness...
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What Will We Be, Devendra Banhart
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