January 15, 2005

DeVotchKa "How It Ends"

Devotchka sounds like they’re from a different world. Theirs seems like a warmer, tropical world. A world with wandering gypsies, drunk gauchos and beautiful, dangerous women. Their home sounds like a world with bad guys and good guys and horsies and saloons and shootouts in the street. Actually, their home is Denver—which isn’t too far off from my silly description mentioned above!

No, this four-piece hail from a more down-to-earth place, but you really wouldn’t know it from listening to How It Ends, their latest platter of out-of-this-old-world sounds. Their music is made with all kinds of old-timey instruments, including Sousaphones, bouzoukis, glockenspiels, and banjos. Throw in some wonderfully spaced-out Theremin, piano, violin, a singer who sounds like he just stepped off the boat from Italy and an orchestra from outer space, and you’ve got a combination that’s most definitely spicy—and most definitely unclassifiable. Sure, their music contains elements of folk, but they’re not a folk band. You’ll also find some Southwestern hints, but they’re not a mariachi band. You’ll even hear some elements of Eastern European styles, but they’re not a gypsy band. This is nothing more than the sound of pure musical passion that’s allowed itself to grow unfettered—resulting in one of the most unique and passionate records you’ve ever heard.

Really, though, that’s how these guys sound! Nick Urata sings with a passion that’s not been seen since…well, he’s got this passionate voice that sounds like a crooner from both the Old World and south of the border. It’s gorgeous, sexy and considering the band’s unique music, it fits quite nicely, and it makes Devotchka even sexier. The entire How It Ends album will hold you captive, but if you stop too long at “Such a Lovely Thing” or “Twenty-Six Temptations” or “Viens Avec Moi,” you’ll never get around to hearing the rest of the record—and don’t dare dwell too long on the utterly intoxicating “This Place Is Haunted”—because this is one of those ‘hit the repeat button’ bands. (Normally, I’d be kind of lazy and make an obvious comparison to Calexico, but in my mind those guys have nothing on Devotchka.)

How It Ends is a fascinating record. It’ll have you listening to it over and over again, looking for some kind of understanding of how they made the damn thing, and chances are that even after a hundred listens, you’ll be nowhere close to figuring it out--and you'll never want it to end!

Why would you want to?

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.devotchka.net

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