DeVotchKa: Gypsy-Fusion Quartet Hits the Big Time

Achieving public familiarity through featured songs in Little Miss Sunshine, DeVotchKa has worked hard to make a name for itself. Its Gypsy-influenced sound employs a wide variety of styles and instrumentation, celebrating a genre that has been around for hundreds of years.

Jesse Morris: The Subway Johnny Cash

The east entrance of the 24th Street rapid-transit station in San Francisco is almost perpetually caked in pigeon shit. The grime-patina floor and supposed-to- be-shiny metal subway turnstiles are mottled with the splatterings, creating a slimy/crusty minefield for commuters to navigate. On that stained floor, carefully wedged between the landmines, is a worn black guitar case with some loose change and a couple of bills staring up forlornly from a plush field of forest green.

Commuters descending the escalator toward this entrance see the case first as they approach. Then they hear the voice. And if it is their first time hearing it, their eyes grow wide. Or they wrinkle their brow. They ask themselves, β€œIs that a recording? Is there some kind of commercial being shot here?” It just sounds too real β€” too much like him. As they descend the escalator further, they see the source of that voice, and things get even more confusing. Because that sound β€” how could it be coming from that person?

William Elliott Whitmore

William Elliott Whitmore: Poetic Discontent

After three albums that touch on personal topics, the scratchy, soulful material of folk singer and banjo player William Elliott Whitmore gets a thematic overhaul, angling toward subdued political themes.