The Black Crowes' Chris Robinson, the Strokes' Nick Valensi and actor Gael Garcia Bernal are among the guests on the forthcoming Devendra Banhart album, "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon."
The Black Crowes' Chris Robinson, the Strokes' Nick Valensi and actor Gael Garcia Bernal are among the guests on the forthcoming Devendra Banhart album, "Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon." The 16-song set, due Sept. 25 via XL, also features string contributions the Section Quartet.
Like the title suggests, the album was recorded in a house outside of Los Angeles, situated within a canyon. "We were looking for the Woodstock of California," Banhart tells Billboard.com.
"Smokey" could be the album that casts aside Banhart frequent "freak-folk" label, as it finds him exploring reggae, ska and doo wop-ish soul. There's also a more noticeable piano presence throughout.
"Chris came over one day, and was playing the charang -- a traditional Argentinean instrument made out of an armadillo back. He was jamming on it and it sounded perfect," Banhart says of Robinson's contribution to the track "Samba Vexillographica."
Stepping out of his role as the lead guitarist for the Strokes, Valensi contributed vocals to "Shabop Shalom," in a unique fashion. "What I find exciting about his contribution, is that it requires actual physical human techniques -- meditation techniques -- to hear. It's almost like playing a record backwards, but there's no equipment necessary," he explains.
And starting off the set, Banhart duets with Garcia Bernal on "Cristobal." "He was over one day, because I wrote a song for one of his films. He just started singing along, and it really fit," Banhart recalls. The track also features lush flute sounds and Banhart playing the Cuatro, a guitar-like string instrument that has its roots in Venezuela.
"It was really about having your friends over and pressing record," Banhart says of the experience. "None of it was planned out."
Banhart is currently on tour in Europe and will launch a full North American tour on Sept. 1 in Vancouver.