Devendra & Greg of Megapuss apearing in Little Joy video cilp; more critical acclaim for Megapuss “Surfing”

Megapuss is a project inaugurated by Devendra Banhart and Greg Rogove, joined by Fab Moretti and abetted by longtime Banhart associated Noah Georgeson, Rodrigo Amarante and others – with all of the above also involved in Moretti’s Little Joy and all of the above appearing in Little Joy’s video clip (and most of the same people showed up in the Megapuss video “Adam & Steve”) which you can view here:

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/download/148058-pitchforktv-little-joy-no-ones-better-sake-video-premiere


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Freak-folk trickster Devendra Banhart continues refusing haircuts and making woolly, provocative jams. Megapuss pairs him with Greg Rogove of arty rockers Priestbird; their debut, supported by the Strokes’ Fab Moretti and his band Little Joy, banks on prankish, international-minded, Sixties-style rock. The Folk-reggae “Duck People Duck Man” praises hummus. “To the Love Within” trips out with a samba groove. The music is hot … One track proposes anal sex for a laundry list of recipients over a Bo Diddley beat. And “Adam & Steve” is an awesome psych jam . Will Hermes/Rolling Stone 12/11

An artistic venture that calls itself Megapuss doesn’t exactly beg to be taken seriously. And when that artistic venture emblazons its album artwork with two naked, longhaired dudes in a violent yet weirdly comical position, it nearly seems to be mocking itself. And even after getting beyond the initial nuttiness of the name and that droll nudity, next thing you know Devendra Banhart’s peculiar, earnest vocals starts waxing poetic about hummus from Trader Joe’s behind the folky melody of one of his homebrewed songs. These are exactly the sort of bizarre meanderings that go down in the world of Megapuss. Has Banhart become completely self-indulgent, riding on a wave of influence and success that lends itself to creating just for the sake of mindlessly creating, or is there more to this Megapuss project than the jest it may initially seem to be? Hmm. That is the big question as I begin my quest through the output of Megapuss (it feels kinda creepy to type that statement).

After listening to Surfing a number of times, it’s clear that, above all, Banhart writes a damn good song. Megapuss is a strangely-named effort in his ability to take the most mundane, or sometimes even weighty, of subjects, and in his ever-resourceful way, hoist them up on their own pleasantly strange and idiosyncratic legs.

With Priestbird percussionist Greg Rogove as the other half of Megapuss (Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti also lends a hand here), they’ve executed a thoroughly enjoyable record, eccentric yet sonically as pleasing as they come. All the elements that make Banhart a musical nonconformist are fully intact, but he’s taking himself a lot less seriously, having what seems to be a capriciously good time with his songwriting. The first song, “Crop Circle Jerk ’94” boasts a swinging surfer-soul sound and a genuine bleeding heart. But by the second track, “Duck People Duck Man”, the oddities that make up Banhart’s palette are fully apparent (this is the song that finds him muttering about Trader Joe’s white bean hummus).

From those quirky musings about the lives of “Duck People” to the vintage fuzz of “Adam & Steve”, Megapuss explores a number of themes and ideas, both in sound and in content. Some of what is being sung about is partly nonsensical, like the lovely childlike anthem “Lavender Blimp” (“We are the ones who swing in the moonlight”), and some of it is rife with intention-see “A Gun On His Hip and a Rose On His Chest”, which finds Banhart eloquently talking shit about the government, Enron, Exxon, homophobes, and the police, to name just a few: “Fuck the government / In the asshole / Fuck the police / In the asshole.” The entirely gratifying “Theme From Hollywood” makes sense for an LA dude whose resume includes a very public relationship with a Hollywood starlet that put him in the paparazzi’s eye and smacked him down in US Weekly and celeb gossip blogs. The album’s title track is a dreamy break from the frenetic energy of the rest of the record, and that quiet, contemplative side of Banhart returns to usher out the album with closer “Another Mother.”

Most songs are digestible nuggets of pure Banhart indulgence and at the end of my mission to uncover whether or not this album is worth a damn, I’m happy to report back that yes, it is-consider it another solid notch on the whimsical belt of freak folk’s most notable guru. Angie Zimmerman/Crawdaddy.com

If you thought Devendra Banhart already got his fun-loving, free-spirited, ambisexual side out in records like Cripple Crow and Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Megapuss, Banhart’s guest-studded partnership with Priestbird’s Greg Rogove, is a giggling, tickling, free-ranging orgy of musical styles, full of inside jokes and porno-aspiring imagery. This is, after all, the band that debuted in LA with Banhart in a penis skirt.

And yet, Banhart being Banhart, Surfing has as many moments of beauty as it does occasions for smirks. The title cut is particularly gorgeous, flurries of classical piano expanding into waves and rolls of 1960s psychedelia. “Mister Meat (Hot Rejection)” is as silly as can be, but it is sandwiched between the lo-fi, ukulele-and-tambourine hippie glories of “Lavender Blimp” and the strung-out, unshaven blues of “Hamman.”  As always Banhart plunders the back catalogs of rock, blues, psych and soul. Sometimes he does this subtly, as on the 1960s driving “Adam and Steve.” Other times, the lift is more blatant. “A Gun On His Hip And A Rose On His Chest” is a scantily disguised, reworded “Hey Bo Diddley” (which has some verses Bo would likely not approve of).

Banhart has gathered a typically motley crew to accompany him – frequent flyers like Andy Cabic and Rodrigo Amarante, alongside new tribe members like Fabrizio Moretti (yes, from the Strokes). They all seem to be having a hella good time… and if you can get past the naked cover art, you probably will as well. JENNIFER KELLY/Blurt-online.com 11/28

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Can’t be sure if the cover to this CD is a take on Last Crack’s Sinister Funkhouse #17 or not, but it hardly matters, as the material is far from homogenous or germane to that group’s work. Megapuss is a collaboration between Devendra Banhart and Greg Rogove augmented by drop-ins who are enmembered in sundry outside ensembles but come together every so often to form this strange.I guess it’s called ‘weird folk’.group. The more I hear of this type of music, the more readily I agree with the appellation and then gravitate toward it, especially when sporting such cool crack-up satires as Duck People Duck Man.

Megapuss is a pool of laissez-faire, semi-rock, sloppy folk, bizarre inspiration, tribal coolness, rejectionist rock, hybrid fusion, and a good deal of strikingly indistinct mojo mortared in with hints of Las Vegas, New Jersey, Manchester, old prog, and lite jazz blent discriminatingly.but profligately. I mean, I hear Sly Stone, Ween, Jimmy Buffett, Flo & Eddie, Jimmy Cliff, David Lindley, and God only knows how many splinters in this off-the-wall disc blending wacky funk with serious chops and innovative approaches.

One thing’s certain: if you’re hip to an amorphous blanket of disparate sounds, this CD is a hell of a lot of fun on several levels, as loosey-goosey as a 70s hippie fest that invited the lowriders, surfers, rastas, and anyone wandering by to duck under the tent and join the orgy. The oddest part is that the damn thing is 100% legit and impossible to ignore. If the band can pull this off in performance, that’s gotta be one righteous head trip, a kind of be-in, live-in, groove-in post-Aquarian mind theater of constantly disintegrating limits and horizons. Almost the inverse of a combo like Alabama 3 (reviewed here), Surfing is a unique document that refuses to go along while rejecting almost nothing.Mark Tucker/AcousticMusic.com 12/11

This is primo weird rock – a seedless, stemless stank blossom that makes you see new colors and twist the night away with a green fairy. It shares some cosmic resonance with singular albums like The Small Faces’ Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name, Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue, Tribalistas (grand one-off from Marisa Monte, Arnaldo Antunes and Carlinhos Brown), Todd Rundgren’s Something/Anything? and Dr. John’s Babylon – each very much their own beast separate from the greater flock, drifting into our lives with wooly, wild charm, existing to stir the shit and make us salivate and shiver. Each is touched by deep sweetness and deep strangeness, and in these respects Surfing (Vapor Records) overflows, a steady rolling tangle of loose wires and dangling participles that caresses odd vibrancy and sneaks in a few dense statements amidst the mishmash. More simply, this invites us to play in a sandbox full of adult toys and there’s no rules to get in the way of our fun.

Megapuss is the brainchild of Devendra Banhart and Greg Rogove (Priestbird), and their coconspirators include Strokes‘ drummer Fabrizio Moretti, the multi-talented Noah Georgeson and producer-engineer extraordinaire Thom Monahan. Listed simply as “contributors,” the long list of merrymakers comes without instrument credits or anything of the sort, and one suspects an organic, everything goes attitude prevailed during these sessions. That said, there’s sturdy architecture to their warbled constructs. This is not just random musings; there’s intelligence behind their skipping rock, which leaves plenty of ripples in its wake. From effervescent pop opener “Crop Circle Jerk ’94” (a ’70s AM radio nuzzler despite the bawdy title) to bounding, upfront shakers like “Theme From Hollywood” (with its grinning meow-meow-meow kitty choir) to the gorgeous drift of the title cut and closing pair “Older Lives” and “Another Mother,” each chapter has its own weight and measure. One has to dig through the booklet – past dick nosed gentlemen, love puddles, newfangled odes on post-modern urns and hirsute nudies – to even find the track listing, implying this album is designed to be experienced, placed on the spinning device and allowed to run around your room, singing, “I used to see fire in the sky, now I see rainbows,” as they rush to give away all their lovin’.

They also chant, “Fuck the President in the asshole.Fuck the police in the asshole/ Fuck the pastors touchin’ our baby boys’ assess,” over a Bo Diddley beat on “A Gun On His Hip and a Rose On His Chest,” which mutates like slow twisting metal to extend their one-finger salute to Enron and other worthies. It’s remarkably cathartic, like much of Surfing, inducing laughter and sighs in pretty much equal measures. Maybe it’ll be the beachside croon of “Chicken Titz” that thwacks your funny bone or the white bean & basil eating “Duck People Duck Man” (“Don’t tell me we look like ducks, that’s a stereotype!”), but you’d have to be a pulse-less drone to fully resist an album so enthusiastic in its smarty-pants silliness.

Surfing is pretty unlike anything Rogove or Banhart have hoisted on the planet before, and, in its way, finds them carrying on the good work of the Bonzo Dog Band, The Holy Modal Rounders and other whimsical mischief-makers. It’s a great family tree and Megapuss is a bright, green leaf, an inducement to smile on one another, join hands and let feelings flow. Sometimes we need a jester’s bop on our noggin for things to come into perspective. Dennis Cook/Jambase.com 12/5

So similar is Megapuss to band member Devendra Banhart’s solo music that the band’s debut release, “Surfing,” might tempt you to check the CD just to make sure that wasn’t accidentally mislabeled. With his new project, the folksy indie artiste and some friends keep things mellow and fun if not always a little odd. But, then again, if your interests were piqued by the mention of Banhart or his many cohorts, including Priestbird’s Greg Rogove and The Strokes’ Fabrizio Moretti, then you’re not too likely to be disappointed or caught off guard.

Heavily indebted to the past, Megapuss “surfs” its way through retro and classic sounds. “Fuck the government/in the asshole,” they sing over Bo Diddley’s classic beat on “A Gun On His Hip And A Rose On His Chest.” Sure, it’s not exactly original but it is damn effective (and the “hey, Bo Diddley” tacked on at the end saves their asses). “Crop Circle Jerk ’94” and “Theme from Hollywood” are catchy and upbeat tunes with effortless flow. Elsewhere Megapuss shoot for both ends of the spectrum: they offer dreamy and delicate acoustics on “Another Mother” while “Duck People Duck Man” offers a silly dissertation over the light refrain of “nobody ever told you you could ever be like that.”

Megapuss’ “Surfing” comes in two parts that, occasionally, aren’t so distinct at all. Mellow and dreamy is vaguely contrasted by the fun and silly. Although the drawn out mellowness and tongue-in-cheek silliness can get a bit much on repeated listens, Megapuss’ “Surfing” plays like the background for a psychedelic California stoner Sunday picnic. Count me in. Corinne Mandell/PlugInMusic.com 12/5

Megapuss is the project of freak-folk troubadour Devendra Banhart, his bandmate Greg Rogove, and recently-anointed third wheel Fabrizio Moretti (of The Strokes and/or Little Joy). Born as an on-tour goof-off, Megapuss’s debut disc, Surfing, shows a band built for laughs; not least in the fact that promo pics have found Banhart and Rogove standing stark naked. The day after the 2008 election, Rogove answered some questions.

Interview: 5 November 2008

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