The leading props in DeVotchKa's press photos are wine and roses, and frontman Nick Urata says there's a reason for that.
'I get the sense that a lot of people who connect with our music are hopeless romantics looking for true love,' says Urata, whose Denver-based Gypsy-rock quartet plays the Annex on Friday, Dec. 1, at 9 p.m.
That impression is not hard to discern at myspace.com/devotchkamusic, where fans express feelings that are fanciful and idealistic. In one posting, a fan explains why 'How It Ends' is his favorite song:
'That song does something to me. I am not even sure if it is good or bad. It makes me feel sorrow, but at the same time makes me wish I could do impossible things like fly or run into burning buildings to save a dozen people single-handedly.'
DeVotchKa enjoys success among a class of contemporary musicians whose work is steeped in neo-romanticism. These artists are the flagship acts of modern indie rock ' Death Cab for Cutie, Sufjan Stevens, M. Ward and the Decemberists.
Rooted in folk traditions and distinguished by their emotional sensitivity, they strive for artistic purity and approaches to songwriting that depart from mainstream norms.
Death Cab for Cutie pines for a love that outlasts death on 'I Will Follow You Into the Dark.' Stevens' anthem 'Chicago' is an ode to spiritual re-creation and a conviction that 'all things grow.'
Likewise, DeVotchKa's 'How It Ends' invokes a chorus of piano and strings to wrestle hope from the fatalistic realization that 'you already know how this will end.'
The neo-romanticism of modern indie rock is not lost on Urata. In a recent phone interview, he compared the genre to the 19th-century Romantic movement, which emphasized emotion and rebelled against the aristocracy in Western Europe.
'I definitely see similarities,' he says. 'That movement was a step away from the mainstream of its time. It was led by young composers. It was a new movement.'
No one can accuse DeVotchKa of comporting with modern pop conventions. Since they formed in 1997, the band have arguably invented their own subgenre, frequently described as 'Eastern bloc indie rock.'
Using nontraditional instruments such as theremin, bouzouki, accordion and sousaphone, DeVotchKa blend the traditions of Romani, Greek, Slavic and Mariachi music with American folk-rock.
The effect is a sound that's lush, timeless, otherworldly and brimming with romance.
'I like music that kind of makes you swoon ' music that takes you away to someplace,' says Urata.
Urata's multi-ethnic musical influences are grounded in his family background. He's the grandchild of an arranged marriage between a Sicilian and a Gypsy.
Urata says he doesn't have a lot of memories of his grandparents, but those that remain continue to resonate.
'They were pretty old when I was born. I didn't get to spend that much time with them before they died. But I always credit them with exposing me to the accordion at a young age.'
Urata adds that his family history has given him a sense of 'the deep-rooted nostalgia all of us have for our roots.'
DeVotchKa's last full-length album was released in 2004, but the band have stayed busy this year. They scored the soundtrack to Little Miss Sunshine and released the six-song Curse Your Little Heart EP.
DeVotchKa's status in the inner circle of folk-infused indie is highlighted by the artists with whom they tour. They're joined this Friday by My Brightest Diamond, the act fronted by Sufjan Stevens' collaborator, Shara Worden.
DeVotchKa formerly toured with Portland's M. Ward, whose summer release, Post-War, stands out as one of the most noteworthy indie rock records of 2006.
'I think that when you meet other artists like that,' Urata says, 'you share the feeling that it's not so much about being in a famous band, it's about writing great songs.'