Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Lilly Scott & Devendra Banhart: Indie, Sultry, Seductive

Okay, I’ll admit that I’ve been watching American Idol. Overall, it’s been an unimpressive season: no drunken escapades from Paula Abdul; less homoerotic banter between Simon and Ryan Seacrest than usual; and an absence of knock-em-dead, glam-rock performers in the vein of Bowie (you know who I’m talking about).

There is an underdog, however, that I’m rooting for: Lilly Scott. It’s a pleasure to listen to her odd musical stylings and sultry voice. As we were watching last night, Guy made a comparison to another indie musician we like–Devendra Banhart.

Banhart is a bit of an anomaly: born in Texas, raised in Venezuela, studied at the San Francisco Art Institute before dropping out to tour around the world. Banhart’s voice is reminiscent of Lilly Scott for its odd, syncopated stylings (almost as if he snipped the ends off each musical phrase) and the seductive tone of his and Scott’s voices. When they sing, they seem to be luring you into a world of their own design. The music is worldly (lots of Indian instruments), folksy (more Scott than Banhart), and full of disregard for the establishment.

We recently had the pleasure of hearing Banhart live at the Berklee Performance Center, touring for his album “What Will Be.” Here’s Banhart’s video “Carmencita,” that features Banhart as a mythic/contemporary hero from twentieth-century Indian cinema and his distraught princess, played by Natalie Portman.

Banhart’s songs remind me what happiness feels like if we lived in only a world of music and rhythms and lightness.

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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