DeVotchKa

A Mad and Faithful Telling

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Like the stately, mature parents of Gogol Bordello, DeVotchKa have created a unique niche by mixing eastern and western traditions into the same pot. A Mad and Faithful Telling is their first release since the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack expanded their fan base tenfold, and it continues the group's unique cultural mishmash, sounding like a Morrissey-fronted Calexico playing norteƱo tunes in an Eastern European ballroom. It's a veritable circus of styles, none of which are normally associated with Colorado's musical climate. But that doesn't stop DeVotchKa from turning in a performance that is at once elegant and wildly passionate, with bandleader Nick Urata leading the pack like a half-drunken opera school dropout. His vocals are uniquely stunning, interlaced with bits of Spanish and brimming with vibrato. With help from his three bandmates and a five-piece string section, he turns even the most somber lyrics ("So this is the city? So this is progress? How can something so pretty become such a mess?") into the sort of sweeping serenades that inspire listeners to raise a wine glass, toast the stereo, and howl along. Elsewhere, the group flirts with spaghetti western music, turning songs like "Head Honcho" and "Undone" into potential candidates for the next Quentin Tarantino film. And lest anyone question DeVotchKa's chops, A Mad and Faithful Telling also includes two lively instrumental numbers: "Comrade Z," which blends mariachi horns with a gypsy-jig beat, and "Strizzalo," an Italian-styled waltz with accordion, tuba, and romantic violins. Bouncing from Mexico City to Prague to Milan to Denver over the course of ten songs, DeVotchKa's fourth full-length shows a band aging gracefully and eccentrically.

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