Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #99 Devendra Banhart
The Top 100 Influential Artists of the Decade list and the Top 100 Albums of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post an artist and album and continue every day until December 31st, when we will unveil our #1 artist and #1 album of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#99 Devendra Banhart
Yes, Devendra Banhart is next after Joanna Newsom, but, no, this is not going to be a list of 100 freak-folk artists. Also, I would argue that Newsom was unfairly categorized as freak-folk because she kicked it with that crew, but didn't really have the same sound. On the other hand, Devendra Banhart is the posterboy for freak-folk, representing its eccentricities in sight and sound.
Folk music, for the most part, is boring. That's right - boring. It's similar to the singer-songwriter genre in which everyone sounds the same. However, from time to time, an artist emerges that has the ability to play it so well, dusting folk with their own brand of emotion that replication and repetition don't matter. Or, they contort the genre with their own quirks, freakouts, and charm that a new sub-genre of folk is created. Elliott Smith and Paul Duncan would be the former; Devendra Banhart is the latter.
Banhart extrapolates the linear path of folk music and twists this extention toward a new direction. His voice is a warble that can be as eerie as a raven's call or as cheerful as a mockingbird's coo. Whether he's finger-picking in an empty room on "Sister" or strumming amongst a Spanish rhythm section on "I Feel Just Like a Child," Banhart manages to draw you in with his simple, yet bizarre songs. His indiosyncracies trickle from his music to his appearance, often donning feathers in his hair, painting on his face, and peculiar garb. He's a genuine artist - one of the best this decade.