Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
The effect of Devendra Banhart’s full-time band on the nu-folk singer-songwriter’s music is like steroids on Barry Bonds’ swing. On Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon Banhart tackles a Zappa list of genre eccentricities and orchestration. One highlight is the delightful doo-wop tune “Shaboom Shalom.” But the quintessential track is “Seahorse”: In eight minutes Banhart jumps from Leonard Cohen to Thelonious Monk and then The Stooges. Although fun and impressive, both the heavy orchestration and Banhart’s performance seem shallowly ironic. The last track, “My Dear Friend,” is the payoff.