The comparisons are obvious on Devendra Banharts fourth, Cripple Crow. Sure, hes a little like Van Morrison everyone who sings with their mouths a little too closed during the quiet parts is. But Cripple Crow isnt Astral Weeks, so the comparisons stop there.
Barely less obvious than the author of Brown Eyed Girl are comparisons to the third and best Velvet Underground record. The closet-quiet production squishes Cripple Crows songs into muted, compressed, junior copycats of the Velvets eponymous album. Nothing is as remarkable as Candy Says and theres even less thats as propelling as What Goes On. Comparing Banhart to Lou Reed is overestimating the songwriters command of the craft. When Banhart tries to stomp out an upbeat song, it sounds like Julian Casablancas would if half of the Strokes decided to just say fuck it empty. Refrains like Well, if I lived in China, Id have some Chinese children, dont boom with profundity; shit, they dont boom at all. Maybe Chinese Children is a weak track in a sea of mediocre ones, but this rambling, aimless pap can crawl back into the neo-hippie hole Devendra Banhart climbed out of.
L.M. Smith writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].