Devendra Banhart

I have a certain story I like to tell whenever I introduce a friend to Devendra Banhart’s music. Circa 2007 or so I was living in Florida and spending nearly every weekend scouring the local record shops for vinyl to add to my burgeoning record collection (shout out to Park Ave and Rock and Roll Heaven). I’d discovered Banhart’s White Reggae Troll single and remember the feeling of excitement I had when my then-fiance and I cuddled up on our ratty sofa to listen to the album for the first time.

You see, Banhart’s isn’t music that you just throw on and then go about your business; it’s music you listen to, which is why we weren’t entirely surprised when the sound emanating from our secondhand speakers was a little, uh, unusual. With furrowed brows we did our best to decipher the underlying meaning behind the droning, heavy vocals and sloth-like tempo. Really, how much weirder was this track than the others we’d heard from the lo-fi, freak-folk artist? It was awfully long for one song, though…

devendra banhart mala

Nearly fifteen minutes in, my husband grabbed the cover to check out the track length, and that’s when we realized we had the record player set to the wrong speed, effectively causing the song to sound like it was being played through molasses. We’d listened to this for 15 minutes! But that’s the thing about Devendra Banhart. Fans expect him to constantly push the boundaries of what music can sound like, so when presented with something that really did not sound like music, I was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Thankfully, “Never Seen Such Good Things,” the second track Banhart has released from his upcoming album, Mala, is a much more pleasant listen than that first encounter with White Reggae Troll. Due for release on March 12, the album marks the artist’s eighth full-length release and first on the Nonesuch label, so if you’re looking for something just a little different to add to your music collection, I suggest pre-ordering Mala now.

Mala Tracklist:

01. “Golden Girls” – 1:35
02. “Daniel” – 3:05
03. “Für Hildegard von Bingen” – 2:35
04. “Never Seen Such Good Things” – 3:13
05. “Mi Negrita” – 3:24
06. “Your Fine Petting Duck” – 5:46
07. “The Ballad of Keenan Milton” – 2:12
08. “A Gain” – 1:35
09. “Won’t You Come Over” – 3:35
10. “Cristobal Risquez” – 2:28
11. “Hatchet Wound” – 3:08
12. “Mala” – 1:08
13. “Won’t You Come Home” – 3:31
14. “Taurobolium” – 3:16
15. “Something French” (LP-Only Bonus Track) – 2:57
16. “Loring Baker” (LP-Only Bonus Track) – 2:25

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Devendra Banhart