Devotchka – a riotous rocking racket


This blog came to pass too late in life to advise of DeVotchKa’s date at Cargo tomorrow, but the eve of that show seems as good a time as any to wax lyrical about the American four-piece and their impossibly unique, life-affirming sound.

DeVotchKa’s members are the equivalent of musical gypsies – from backgrounds posh and poor – and the gorgeous racket they make embodies the melange of influences and global styles. According to their MySpace page, the quartet fuse “Romani, Greek, Slavic and Bolero music with American punk and folk roots”.  I couldn’t tell you if that’s right or wrong, but there are definite elements of vaudeville and country that I recognise.  And all is generally a riot: the lyrics change languages and the band play all sorts of insruments, from trumpets and a theremin to a violin called Juan Pablo, via ones I’ve never previously heard of: a sousaphone, a bouzouki. You get the feeling they’re having a hoot; on stage I suspect it’s mad, sweaty, brilliant chaos.

Each DeVotchKa song has the knack of sounding instantly familiar, as if it was music just waiting to be made, hewn by time itself.  And yet each also thrills.  Led by Nick’s soaring vocals, they peaks and plum- the depths in equal measure; there are gentle intros of Sunday-morning style serenity before frenzied Saturday-night climaxes.  My absolute favourite is Transliterator:  its lyrics overlap each other like keen morning waves and it begins with a mellow string ripple, and yet in the midst lies a kicking little marching anthem of a song, fired by passion and a rat-a-tat beat.  At one point, everything stops in respectful silence for a distant-sounding trumpet, and then off we go again, with renewed vigour…

They’re a bit mad, a bit rad and utter fun, then.  They’re also hard-working: DeVotchKa’s road to fame proves they’ve earned their fame.  Aftera decade in the musical wilderness, a big break finally arrived in the opportunity to score Little Miss Sunshine (remember those gentle melodies?).  A well-received collection of covers and two ecstatically-reviewed  albums cemented their improved standing, and the rapid sale of all Cargo tickets proves DeVotchKa’s time in the spotlight is deservedly enduring.  Ask ten music-loving friends if they’ve heard of this band and nine may say no, but the tenth will absolutely adore them.  And that, I like to think, is how it should be.

I’ll be sure to let you know when the next UK dates are announced.

DeVotchKa on MySpace
DeVotchKa’s website

DeVotchKa – Transliterator (zSHARE)


~ by ripamel on 10/08/2009.

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