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This is my second page looking at Brazil's indiepop scene (what little of it I've been able to track down...) These reviews start here and are part of a much larger Brazilian Music Guide...


Various Artists "BAIAO DE VIRAMUNDO: TRIBUTE TO LUIZ GONZAGA" (YBrazil/Stern's, 2000)
A weird, modernized take on the forro tradition, featuring only a few well-known artists (such as Nana Vasconcelos and Nacao Zumbi), along with a slew of Brazil's most creative electronica artists. The typical accordion-and-triangle sound of forro is stripped apart, laid bare and slathered with skittery jungle, ambient dub and techno riffs, rendering it all but unrecognizable... deconstructed, as it were. The results are challenging and delightful. The only one of these artists I've heard of before is Otto -- all these other young'uns are a revelation. Definitely worth your attention!

Various Artists "BASEMENTVILLE! v.2: THE SOUND OF JOVEM GUARDA" (Misty Lane, 2000)
I suppose this set could be considered jovem guarda, but whereas most of the better-known, more mainstream jovem guarda bands had a mostly watered-down, teenybopper pop style, most of the groups on this excellent set of garage rock obscuros really knew how to rock. Glancing at the scans of old album covers and LP labels, it seems that '60s punk bands generally were excluded from the major label rosters -- these releases on Mocambo, Palladium, GMD and Caravelle and others (with a few on CBS, Polydor and Continental) have a wildness that was largely missing in the Brazilian rock scene, at least until Gil and Veloso showed up. This reissue LP is highly recommended, although your best bet for tracking a copy down might be to contact Misty Lane Records directly, in their misty Roman lair.

Cool set of modern-day psychedelic and garage bands from Sao Paulo, ranging from "Secret Agent Man"-style surf-pop to totally trippy, echo-laden swirly stuff. A lot of variety and pretty cool bands. Particularly noteworthy are Nihilo, Os Espectros and Makina Du Tempo, who achieve the largest sounds on here, as well as the Superchunk-y Effervescing Elephant, whose "J. Jenie Junk" is pretty fun, despite being sung in English. Debts to numerous North American bands are plain, as are the inevitable nods towards hometown heroes, Os Mutantes. Well worth checking out, especially considering how little indiepop comes out of Brazil, and how good so much of it is. (NOTE: the Baratos Afins record store, which put this disc out, is probably the only place you're likely to find this album. Check out their website from the link above for mailorder info, as well as info on other Brazilian indie bands.)

Various Artists "FAVELA CHIC: POSTNOVE 2" (BMG-France, 2002)
This series was assembled by the DJs at a hip Parisian nightclub , where it's said to be all the rage. This volume opens with several well-selected 70s rock and soul numbers, by the likes of Trio Ternura, Rita Lee and Toni Tornado; it moves into more modern remix tracks from labels such as Trama and Natasha, and then alternates back and forth between classic tropicalia and contemporary novo-tronica. It's not bad!

Various Artists "HEARTS OF STONE/CORACOES DE PEDRA" (Magica, 2000)
Yeah, baby!! Brazilian beat from the mid-'60s, with plenty of cover tunes but also a healthy dose of originals. The best known groups on here are (of course) Renato e Seus Blue Caps and Os Beat Boys, but mainly this is for-real, off-the-beaten-track, honest-to-goodness teen beat from the British Invasion days. For those of us who like kitschy cover tunes that don't suck, and who are trying to delve into the dim, misty past of Brazil's pre-tropicalia rock scene, this is an ultra-invaluable find. Plus, it's even got (gasp!) great, well-written liner notes. Okay, so when's volume dois come out?

This tribute features a lot of younger contemporary Brazilian artists, along with old-timers such as Gal Costa, Chico Buarque and Elba Ramalho. Soul, trip-hop, dancehall and rap weave throughout about half of these tracks; the rest stick more closely to traditional forro arrangements. The two tracks by Lenine are disappointing, but on balance this is a nice set, with surprisingly few weak moments.

Various Artists "MUQUIFO RECORDS APRESENTA: COMP_01|02 - ORGANICO | SINTETICO" (Muquifo, 2001)
A nice, 2-CD sampler of Brazilian electronica, with artists such as Superagua, DJ Dolores, Sons Of The Beat, etc., and erstwhile indie-rockers like Jupiter Apple in tow as well. The first disc ("Organico") is mellower, more melodic stuff, and while it isn't until the end of the disc that we start hearing sounds that seem distinctly "Brazilian," it's a nice little chill room set. The "Sintetico" disc, predictably, is a little harder and more mechanical -- a fairly generic set of uptempo house music. Nothing special there, unless you're into that scene, in which case I suppose this is pretty decent. (But honestly, how the hell can anyone tell the difference between these artists?) Nice to know Brazilians are as capable of making club music as anyone else. I liked the first disc.

This low-rent Brazilian rocknroll tribute to ex-Mutante Arnaldo Baptista has its charms and its iffy moments too... The repertoire includes material from Baptista's Mutantes days, as well as a bunch of his solo stuff. The bands are also pretty diverse, ranging from actively painful Pat Travers-style rockers (Nata Violeta, Ligacio Direta) to space rockers, grindcorers, Green Day clones, and goth-ish indie types of varying ability. It's not, to be honest, the greatest album ever. But you could look at it as the Brazilian equivalent of one of those zillions of mid-1980s postpunk rock comps that came out during the days when they still called it "college" rock. Also, keep in mind that Baptista wasn't the world's most coherent composer, so anyone covering his raggedy-ass material has a tough act to follow. Some of these songs hit the mark, others don't -- but for the hardcore Mutantes fan, this could definitely be worth checking out.

Various Artists "RED HOT + LISBON: ONDA SONORA" (Bar None, 1999)
Wow! Another winner in the "Red Hot" AIDS charity series. This follow-up to RED HOT AND RIO focuses on contemporary Portuguese pop, but the influences are overwhelmingly Brazilian. The highlight here is a bilingual duet between David Byrne and Caetano Veloso (who, as it turns out, have very similar voices...) Lisbon's sizable immigrant community is represented by several interesting traces of African traditional and pop music, including a collaboration between Angola's pop legend, Bonga, and Brazil's Marisa Monte and Carlinhos Brown. There are also heavy doses of club and ambient electronica. Some of these efforts are fluid and seductive; others are disappointing. In particular, the talents of DJ Spooky seem poorly utilized, and the lusophone rap of General D is predictably lackluster (he's no MC Solaar); probably the worst track on here is an insufferable fado by the ever-schmaltzy k.d. lang. Overall, though, this is an excellent album, well worth checking out. New to me: Smoke City, who are sort of a Portuguese Portsihead. Recommended!

Various Artists "RED HOT AND RIO" (Verve Antilles, 1996)
An ambitious and often lovely mix of Jobim standards with modern production and styles. Heavyweights such as Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, etc. team up with various U.S. hipsters, soul singers and rappers, to varying degrees of success. Everything But The Girl's version of "Corcovado," David Byrne's duet with Marisa Monte or Stereolab teamed up with Herbie Mann are among the highlights. The efforts of "quiet storm" soul singers such as Maxwell and Incognito are less satisfying, though I'm sure their fans will appreciate them. Overall, this is a nice, far-reaching effort, very much in the spirit of experimentation and inclusion which makes MPB so exciting to begin with. (PS - this disc is a benefit for AIDS research, for the Red Hot foundation.)

Various Artists "RIO BAILE FUNK: FAVELA BOOTY BEATS" (Essay, 2004)
A groovy, well-programmed collection of Brazilian party music, lively stuff that springs from a Brazilian fascination with the "Miami bass" style of dance/hip-hop music... As heard here, the insistent, often obnoxious baile funk doesn't always highlight the heavy low end of its Miami-based ancestors, but it does share a gleeful sense of hedonism, frivolity and abandon. This disc is a slick mix of no-brainer dancefloor favorites by artists such as Dennis DJ, Furacao 2000, MC Jack and others; although its hardly in the Brazilian pop mainstream, the baile funk scene had an explosive growth in the 1980s and '90s, fronting huge, rave-like dance parties amid monstrously large sound systems. As described in the album's liner notes, the scene fell prey to incidental violence and for a time the dances were legally procribed following a few notably disasterous shows. Still, it's hard to imagine such a spunky sound being kept down for long: I'm hardly a fan of club culture, dance music or 'lectro beats, but this is a fun album, with spazzy sampled beats, kooky, rapid-fire lyrics (often sampled and manipulated) that are more like rally chants than rapping or dancehall... The superfast, dat-datdat-daadad-dah beat somehow, miraculously falls short of simple monotony, and the whole effect is rather giddy and captivating. It's hardly your typical Brazilian pop, but it's definitely worth checking out.

Various Artists "ROUGH GUIDE TO BRAZILIAN ELECTRONICA" (Rough Guides, 2003)
Nice collection! The automatic compatibility of Brazilian bossa and samba with modern electronica has been taken as a given for many years, but the easy assumptions of many mixers -- particularly DJs in the European acid jazz/lounge/dance music cliques -- have not always borne the synthesis out. This collection stands out amidst the many bland "Brazilian" chill out discs, highlighting several artists with a genuine feel for Brazilian grooves and more to offer than the same old drum'n'bass sound and formless ambient meanderings. Interesting, creative stuff... well worth checking out, particularly as it will lead you to several of Brazil's more innovative modern artists, such as Fernanda Porto, Rebeca Matta and Ramiro Musotto. Recommended!

Various Artists "O SILENCIO DO GALAXIE: CAUSAS E CONSEQUENCIAS" (Midsummer Madness, 2000)
A couple of years ago I wrote a letter to a little Brazilian underground indie label I had heard of, saying "hey! hi! send us your records and we would love to review them...!" Well, I hadn't necessarily expected a response -- folks don't always understand how cool you are just 'cause you tell them you are -- so I wasn't that shocked when no reply was forthcoming. What was a surprise (and a very pleasant one at that!) was that the label got in touch with me ages later and sent a copy of this lovely CD compilation, wrapped in construction paper and featuring over a dozen swell Brazilian indie bands that are certainly below the radar for folks here in the old EU. Fans of the Spanish label, Siesta Records, might want to sit up and take notice of Midsummer Madness -- it's another earnest, genuinely independent label (and fanzine) that follows its own heart and issues music that it loves. This CD (Volume Two in a series) collects tracks from several 7" singles by bands such as The Gilbertos, Grenade, Stellar and Vibrosensores, presumably the cream of the Brazilian indie scene. It's mostly recognizable, charmingly derivative guitar rock, with hints of old Sonic Youth, Sarah label and new romantic haircut bands from years gone by... and it easily holds its own with similar fare from across the world. This is stuff you won't be able to find anywhere else -- other than possibly on Brazil's online station, Trama Radio -- and it's all pretty nice. I especially like the opening track by Feedback Club, which has a pleasantly Sonic Youth/Jesus And Mary Chain feel to it. Several songs are sung in English, some are bilingual, and some (my faves) are in Portuguese... The rock revolution is alive and well in Rio de Janeiro, and now you can check it out for yourself.

Make no mistake about it: this disc is a fascinating, well-researched and invaluable exploration of some of the rarest Brazilian rock -- jittery, angular, no-wave-ish art-rock from the early-'80s Sao Paulo underground scene. Generally speaking, punk and indie rock have historically made little traction in Brazil, particularly the bands of this era and this style of music, so a disc is of tremendous historical value, filled with way-off-the-radar bands such as Mercenarias (whoever they were...), Gang 90 (hunh?), and Akira S E As Garotas Que Erraram (hey wait, they're not in the Trouser Press Guide, either...!!) The trouble is, for me at least, that I never really liked this kind of music, even though half the people at my radio station dutifully venerated bands like ESG, James White, Gang Of Four, Lora Logic, et al., back when I was first immersed in the murky world of 1980s college radio... But man, if my artsy little pals had known about this collection back then...!! Wheeww... they really woulda wet themselves. Anyway, I've never been much for the arid, super-cerebral side of the punk and post-punk scene -- crunchy, messy guitars, snotty attitudes and sheer hormonal release were always kinda more my style. But it's instantly clear that these kids in Sao Paulo were really pretty hip and up-to-date, and they were getting all the "right" imports for the time... The spirits of Joy Division and Pere Ubu hang like patron saints over this remarkable album... Great liner notes, too, that delve into the particulars of the Brazilian punk/rock scene, including some info about the fabled Baratos Afins label and record shop... I doubt I'll ever really listen to this disc again, but I'm certainly not going to give up my copy any time soon...

Various Artists "SKA BRASIL" (Aztlan Records, 1997)
Contemporary Brazilian ska, which sounds pretty good for the genre. Worth checking out if you already like the North American stuff.


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