There's something familiar, something half-remembered in this music, with its vaguely Spanish melodic snippets, its Eastern European-flavored rhythms. The singer has a piercing tenor not unlike that of Radiohead's Thom Yorke. Violins shine with tremulous vibrato on each note of a mournful introduction and then explode into furious bow-slinging for the body of the song. DeVotchKa plays with musical influences -- the emphasis belongs on "play." The members of this Colorado-based quintet are students of international sounds, but they don't seem interested in digging too deep. By avoiding mastery of any one ethnic style, DeVotchKa creates what might be described as American gypsy music, a fusion of whatever intriguing sounds have crossed the band members' paths.
Many players have wandered in and out of DeVotchKa's ranks over the past six years, bringing new ideas to the stylistic mix. Singer and principal songwriter Nick Urata remains the constant; the fact that he plays guitar and trumpet, two instruments diametrically opposed in the techniques required, suggests the diversity of his musical brain patterns. Right now, membership in the band seems to require the ability to play one wind instrument and one hand: Tom Hagerman plays violin and accordion, Paul Fonfera plays clarinet and cello, Jeanie Schroeder plays sousaphone and upright bass and Sean King plays drums (he apparently gets an exemption from wind duties). This lineup appeared at the Way Out Club twice last year and blew the audience away on each occasion. Don't miss them.