Music has always been a world commodity. This is one part of a multi-part series showcasing some sounds from around the world.
This week I’m going to settle in one area, Brazil, as they have their own musical scene unique to themselves. Brazil seemed to be one of the countries that revolved around MTV for a good number of years that sort of breathed new life into the scene. Brazil in the 80’s and early 90’s was the definition of DIY. Records were expensive to import, so stores would get a few of them and then sell their own cassette mixtape which then would get dubbed again and again. The underground scene was huge due to this analog illegal file sharing. Their music scene was also strengthened by this tight-knit bond with the fans…So, without further delay, here is the second introduction to Brazil .
I have been trying to write an introduction for Brazil, but this country is sort of an oddball. It is the 5th largest country in the world. Something like 60% of it is rainforest, but that is home to 10% of the population. It is the 7th largest economy…However- corruption runs rampant and the infrastructure is slowly falling apart, poverty is a well-known issue, and There have been riots over the past two years over pretty much everything – police brutality, degrading public services, funding of soccer stadiums over infrastructure, and fare hikes…and then there’s this apocalyptic reminder
Random story, i was on vacation in Chile on a winery tour, and i was at lunch, and I was having lunch with two Brazilian couples, they had to be in their early 60’s/late 50’s, and they didn’t speak a word of english and I knew enough spanish to have a remedial conversation with them. We had some simple conversations like why I was there…no, like why i was there. They were confused why someone like myself, by myself, would be in Chile, at the end of August, and what would lead me, an American, to go to Chile (as apparently we are a rare site). Eventually, I was able to turn the conversation to them, and we talked about Brazil for a good couple of hours. Basically, i learned the following things- Everything in Brazil is super expensive because everyone is corrupt, their dollar is getting stronger, so now their people are able to travel a lot easier, and they…they are very passionate about their soccer. He was a Corinthians fans, she someone else…and they were going at each other for a good 10 minutes. Ah, good times.
With that being said, Brazil does have a huge cultural scene, however, I was surprised to learn that they are on an island of sorts. They are the only Portuguese speaking nation in South America, so, their music sort of starts and ends there. I was surprised to learn how few bands sing in English. I didn’t read much on bands traveling around the world, or even South America for that much. It seems, to me, that they’re all content just running around their large nation. One last thing about this country, it is host to the largest musical festival in the world, Rock in Rio, which averages at least 150,000 people per day.
Ok, that’s enough of an introduction. Let’s get into some music (95% is in Portuguese BTW), shall we?
I also had a long introduction mentally prepared for the first band on the list, Sepultura, but, what can really be said about them? If the big four of thrash metal are Metallica, Megadeath, Slayer, and Anthrax, then Sepultura is probably in the next four. They have sold 20 million albums worldwide and are generally considered to be one of the godfathers of nu metal (sorry?) So, here is a quick summation of this landmark band- The band’s name means “Grave,” which is a translation of a Motorhead song. The group was founded by two brothers, Max and Igor Cavalera. Max left the band in 1997 when the band wanted to replace the band manager, Max’s wife. Igor quit the band in 2006, who at first wanted to take a timeout for the birth of his 4th child, but later just quit altogether. So, the only original member left in the band is the bassist. That sums up the band in a nutshell, no? Anyway, here is their most well-known song, Roots Bloody Roots
So, as i had written earlier, Max formed a new band, Soulfly, and based it in Phoenix Arizona. They have released 9 albums and one live DVD, and currently Max’s 20-year-old son is their drummer…. One funny thing about this band (to me at least), i have always commented that Max’s english seems to regress. His lyrical style has always been simple, but now it just seems to be just vocab words…it’s like, i feel i could be a songwriter of some obscure eastern european band with a language i know nothing about after listening to Soulfly. Here is their latest single, Bloodshed, off their 9th album “Savages”
After 10 years of feuding, the Cavalera brothers reunited and decided to start a new band dubbed ‘Cavalera Conspiracy.’ Originally it started as a four piece, but there are reports that the new album will be just the two brothers, as a heavy metal White Stripes. Off their debut album “Infliked,” this is their first single, “Sanctuary”
Every once in a while, you will read something about a product/person/whatever and be like “Wow, I had no idea…who knew… ” Little factoids like – Fortune cookies are from Japan, Legos are a Danish product…and Norwegian black metal was heavily inspired by a Brazillian band….who knew. We shall cover Norway when (if) we get there, but the scene (which lasted from the late 80’s to early 90’s) reads like something of a movie – a group of 16-24 year old kids who all played the same music, murder, suicide, church burnings, satanism. To me, it is a very fascinating topic, and I’m not the only one. There have been many documentaries on the subject as well, but i digress. Their first album, I.N.R.I., is included on top 10 lists by both critics and insiders as well. It would also seem that the entire genre that is black metal has been molded by this band. Sarcafago was the first to wear the now synonymous black and white ‘corpse paint.’ and that one of the members of one of the first popular NBM groups was a fan and wanted not only his band, but all the bands in the scene to adopt that look. Now, trying to find any footage of this is beyond difficult. I know that VHS technology did not stand up to the test of time, but home video equipment in 1980’s Brazil must…did they stick trash bags over it? It was like colour TV was just introduced to this nation. It looks like Vietnam war footage (the quality, not the content). Ok, this might not be the best video example as it sort of appears in this live 1987 video that only the lead singer is painted up…even though his Slash-esqe hair seems to obscure everything. I just wanted to highlight this video for “the black vomit” for a one reason – Was there a magical shrink ray available back then? Look at the drum set and the bass. Now look at the two people playing said instruments? Do they look to be shrunk 10%? i vote yes. Also, this song is way more thrash than death metal
But there is more to Brazil than just two bands, let’s see what else is going on with this country. . .
Los hermanos were a critically acclaimed back in the early 200’s in Brazil. Two of their albums have appeared on Rolling Stone’s top 100 Brazilian Albums of all time. Their music can be described as indie rock, and maybe ‘the Brazilian strokes” Their sound has gotten softer with each subsequent album until their breakup in 2007. It looks like they have recently reunited in the past year or so. Here they are with “A Flor”
Cansei de Ser Sexy (I’m tired of being sexy) is a synthpop band whom all of you should know as being in an iPod commercial some years back.
Well they are still around, still producing synthpop music. they just released their 4th album “planta” back in July, and here if the song “honey,” off that album.
Fresno is an emo rock band from Southern Brazil. They have released six albums since their inception in 1999. Their most recent album was self-produced and released in its entirety on Youtube. The is the track “infinito” off the album of the same name.
Since we’ve already found the Brazilian strokes, let me introduce you to the Brazilian Green Day, CPM 22. How similar are they to Green Day (outside of the sound) you ask? Well, they perform on TV often and their old school fans have accused them of selling out and not being underground enough. They currently have six albums, and two live albums. I could say they sound like blink 182 or sum 41 or new-found glory, but in the end they all sound like green day. Here is CPM 22 with “irreversivel”
I’m starting to get an idea of what the mainstream music scene down in Brazil is like. It’s music that’s safe kids music. It’s “rock and roll” that can be played while going into target. It’s like listening to Hoobastank’s “The Reason” and Incubus “Drive” …not that there’s anything wrong it. Here they are with the single Mare
Gloria is a fairly successful metalcore band also from Sao Paulo. They have released four albums and just put out a live album. I don’t really have much else than they’re you’re typical band of that genre, but their lead singer can’t be any taller than 5 feet tall. . .not something that’s common in the world of music. This is the song Anemia off their live DVD.
Detonautas Roque Clube
Detonautas are an alternative rock back from Rio. They are very popular down there, and therefore very busy. They have released the following: 4 Albums and 1 EP that have spawned 17 singles, two live albums – one of which is acoustic, and a best of compilation. Here is their performance of “O dia que nao terminou”
What a difference a difference dropping your backing band can do for your career. There have been solo artists who used to start off their careers in a band – Morrisey, George Michael, Phil Collins, Gwen Stefani, etc… Pitty, who arguably is one of the biggest things in Brazil now, has followed a similar career path. She started off her career with the hardcore band Inkoma. How different of a sound, you ask? The first video is a 50 second song from her hardcore band.
Now compare that to a live clip of her first single “Me Adora” off her latest CD.
Notice a difference? Yeah, me neither…
Felguk is a
death metal band a famous DJ duo. . . and here’s the thing that has always fascinated me about techno music. How does one give awards to this? Setting aside the 64k modem sounds of EDM, this genre hasn’t evolved since the 70’s. *shrug* I don’t get it. Anyway, here they are with Slice N Dice.
Moveis Coloniais de Acaju
Moveis Coloniais de Acaju (meaning Colonial mahogany wood-made furniture) are a 10 piece ska band from Brasilia…and they are a ska band. No, this isn’t 1996, and this isn’t your normal ska. this seems to be a bit more mature ska, ie their band doesn’t have the prefix ska- to their band name and I don’t picture trombones and saxophones flying through the air. This seems like a serious ska band…no wacky stuff. But they have been around since 1998, so their sound could have slowed down by then. Here they are with the song “A Menina Danca”
The Autoramas are a three-piece Garage rock band. They have released five albums and have toured all over the world and have a little fan base in Japan. The Japanese sure do have an eclectic taste, don’t they? Anyway, this is the Autoramas with the song “Paciencia”
Speaking of Big in Japan, Hibria is a Speed Metal band that has released three albums to date, and all three have charted in Japan. The funny thing about this band is that all the members have super long hair, except for their bald lead singer. I always found that amusing. Also, as far as the speed metal goes, they remind me of an iron maiden/dream theatre combination as opposed to just “let’s play fast” speed metal. Here they are with the emo sounding “Silence will make you suffer”
Beware of this 21 singer/songwriter from Brazil is about to wash up on US shores. She’s released four albums in the past 5 years, but it’s the most recent one that’s gotten her on a commercial for Windows 8. Her latest album was released in America a few months ago and is planning a tour in 2014. . . don’t say i didn’t warn you. Here she is with “Highly Sensitive”
…and thus concludes our little musical journey of Brazil. Next time, I think we’re all over the place again. As always, I thank you for the little time we have shared together. Let’s do this again, shall we? Oh yes, one last thing, Bus 174, watch it on Netflix. It’s a very good documentary about the Poverty in Brazil. It’s a very good film, 99% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes good.