Denver’s DeVotchka still on top

This week I’d like to talk about the Denver Colorado based indie rock group, DeVotchka. DeVotchka is an important band for a number of reasons, the first being their influences. The band draws heavily on Russian folk music, Mariachi, and punk influences. The band takes their name from the word “devotchka” meaning “girl” in Russian. Coming from a predominantly Eastern European background I feel a strong cultural connection to their music. Songs by DeVotchka are often filled with accordion, violin and crooning vocals as well as screeching electric guitars and synthesizers. Since the band’s inception in 1997 they have built a relatively small but strong following. Their albums are both insightful and unique. Their most recent, 100 Lovers, is no exception.

100 Lovers is sort of an amalgamation of all the various styles of music with which they have experimented over the years. The album is, however, much more pop oriented than anything they have made so far. Much of the punk feel from their previous albums has been shed entirely. The only real problem I have with the album is the lack of coherence. There is no specific artistic direction incorporated in the album. It doesn’t have a definitive style. Depending on how you feel, this could be a good or a bad thing.

One of my favorite songs on the album was “Ruthless.” Ruthless is a song that conveys deep sorrow to me. It is upbeat and set to a Latin rhythm, but the lyrics speak of loss of identity and love. The song also incorporates some Spanish lyrics as well. The synthesizers seem to rise above the vocals and come to rest lightly on top of them, spiraling out of control at times.

Another song that I really enjoyed was “Exhaustible.” This song was a bit less ambitious than some of the other songs on the album, but it is a very well written, very catchy tune. The musical arrangement consists of a jangling drumbeat with distorted synthesizers and whistling in harmony. The lyrics posses the same trademark crooning vocals in so many of their other songs.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this album. I could not think of a truly bad thing to say about it. After about 14 years of making music, DeVotchka still hasn’t lost it.