Born in Houston, Devendra Banhart spent most of his childhood in Venezuela before moving to L.A. He began writing songs in his teens, but performed only as a hobby while attending the San Francisco Art Institute. As Banhart started playing low-key live shows, his stirring and eclectic fusion of styles — tropicalia, folk, lounge jazz, glam rock, psychedelia — caught the attention of a national label in 2002.
Often viewed as a "freak folk" hippie, and widely credited with spurring the neo-folk movement, Banhart won massive acclaim for mid-'00s records such as Nino Rojo and Rejoicing in the Hands. His major-label debut, and first album since 2007, What Will We Be stays true to the essence of the singer-songwriter's colorfully weird folk style. The disc's downtempo gentility is immediately apparent, but he still throws some wild dance-rock curveballs. What Will We Be possesses the textural and melodic strength of his past works, but with enough experimentation and maturity to showcase how much he's grown.
This segment originally ran Jan. 22, 2010.
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