DeVotchKa drops fifth album 1OO Lovers with Valentine celebration in denver
:: DeVotchKa ::
By Matt Treon
Romantic rock band: DeVotchKa. That’s about the best way to describe this otherwise nearly indescribable band (at least as far as the genre game goes). Wrought with talent and originality, their music is as much gypsy as it is rock, as much indie as it is bolero. They sound like a slightly drunken old world perambulating the new, staking claim among the slightly mad.
Originally a backing band for burlesque shows — at one point touring with Dita von Teese (the tight-lacing burlesque artist, fetish model, and pseudo-femme fatale who was briefly married to Marilyn Manson) — DeVotchKa’s popularity seems to be relentlessly growing at an exponential rate. The band earned a Grammy nod for their score for the Academy Award winning film Little Miss Sunshine, and frontman Nick Urata recently composed the score for I Love You Phillip Morris, starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.
This past year they took their stunning, theatrical live show to such places as Istanbul, Belgium, and Poland. “It looks so nice on paper, but the reality is a little messy,” said Urata during a recent conversation with The Marquee. “So many moments go by unattended because you are concentrating on playing in key or making it to a destination on time. We would like to keep learning languages and instruments, but I think for the moment we just want to play the right notes.”
Now the band is set to release their fifth studio album and embark on another series of lengthy tours — suitably being kicked off by a Valentine’s Day show in Denver. The show marks the release of the band’s highly anticipated 100 Lovers (Anti-Records). DeVotchKa fans inside the walls of Denver’s Fillmore Auditorium will be able to get the new album that night; those outside the Fillmore will have to wait until March 1.
100 Lovers was created in the Arizona desert (as was their previous album, A Mad and Faithful Telling) under the guidance of producer Craig Schumacher (Calexico, Neko Case). The band —made up of Urata on vocals, guitars, piano, theremin and bouzouki; Tom Hagerman on violin, accordion, piano and melodica; Jeanie Schroder on sousaphone, bass and vocals; and Shawn King on drums, trumpet, accordion and organ — also brought in guest members from Calexico, and percussionist Mauro Refosco (of Thom Yorke’s band Atoms For Peace, and David Byrne’s band). As usual, the album is laced with DeVotchKa’s signature Eastern European and Latin flourishes, but also feels like it explores a greater sonic expansiveness than previous DeVotchKa efforts, and covers more territory than ever before.
“We have an arsenal of stuff that we love,” Urata said, “but on this record we tried not to over-think stuff and just make sure we liked the songs. The only intention we consciously made was to make a good record. We learned a lot and experienced a lot since the last one. All you can do is hope it shows up on tape, and that people like to listen to it.”
The album travels a great distance between songs like the upbeat-ish sound of “Exhaustible” and songs like the album’s opener, “The Alley,” which is a cinematic ballad of sorts that showcases Urata’s melancholic vibrato — his voice is basically the Latin Roy Orbison, but darker, and piercing right through the gut with every note. But it’s the space in between these two extremes — songs like “All the Sand in All the Sea,” one of the hardest hitting songs in their entire catalogue — where the most interesting moments occur, sonically as well as lyrically and emotionally.
“Life has been a big influence,” Urata said. “In a nutshell, all my lyrics ask, ‘Why am I here?’ And, ‘Why don’t you love me?’ I’m just carrying on from a long line of others asking the same questions, but that is the great power of music: there is joy in the sorrow and sorrow in the joy.”
DeVotchKa’s live shows have become known for their theatrical elements — grandiose themes, acrobatics, absurdly sexy ribbon dancers, etc. — and while Urata didn’t want to spoil surprises, he did say that they will continue that tradition with their Valentine celebration. He added that Mauro Refosco would be joining the band onstage with his Brazilian drums. “[He] really brought an element we have always aspired towards,” Urata said of Refosco. “And he will be joining us to get the hips a-shaking.”
:: DeVotchKa ::
:: Fillmore Auditorium :: February 12 ::
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