Brazil's indiepop scene is fairly microscopic; harder styles such as the rap music, grindcore and hard rock are much more popular. But there are devotees of twee-er styles and (of course) electronica is taking off too... Here's an all-too quick look at the handful of bands I've heard of. If I get really rich, or if a flood of groovy albums show up in my mailbox, I'll expand this page more in the future... Heck, I'll even also throw in some electronica reviews, too, just for good measure. So dig in!
Arnaldo Antunes - see artist discography
Arnaldo Baptista "Singin' Alone" (Virgin-Brazil, 1982)
A genuinely weird, frequently enchanting album that puts ex-Os Mutantes singer Arnaldo Baptista smack dab in the intersection between Prog Street and Lo-Fi Boulevard. He captures the best spirit of both aesthetics, with a playful, cockeyed take on the whole absurd notion of making a record in the first place... sort of like a Brazilian Alex Chilton. Dribs and drabs of his early '70s boogie rock past also come into place on this oddball record - about two thirds inventive and playful, one third annoying as hell. If you're a Mutantes fan, this is well worth checking out. (For more Arnaldo Baptista albums, check out his his discography page...)
DJ Patife/Various Artists "DJ Patife Presents Sounds Of Drum'N'Bass" (Trama, 1999)
Better-than-average Brazilian electronica, from the late '90s club scene. Some songs have a distinctive "Brazilian-ness" to them, although for the most part, I'd have to say this seems like the same old same old, as far as electronic dance and techno music goes. Certainly worth checking out, if that style is your bag.
Domenico +2 "Sincerely Hot" (Pingpong, 2003)
An atypical band, seeking an atypical audience, this trio was known a year earlier as "Moreno Veloso +2," gaining widespread praise in Brazil and abroad for an alluring mix of indie rock, electronica and modernized MPB. Part of their acclaim came from the presence of Moreno himself, son of the mega-superstar Caetano Veloso, who showed much of his father's adventurous musical spirit and relaxed performance style. But, having established itself as a "world music" band to content with, the Plus Twos went ahead and followed the ultrademocratic game plan they'd set out with at the start, to have each of the band members record a disc under their name... This time around, it's drummer Domenico's turn, and the shift in musical direction is quite remarkable... This album boasts a pronouncedly modern, American-style tilt towards brash, bright electronic pop and indierock motifs worthy of any critic's darling out of Seattle, Portland or Chicago. The band dips into some softer, textured melodies that borrow from the bossa nova stylebook, but for the most part the point seems to be to make sure that we can see that the kids in Brazil are keeping up with hipsters in the rest of the world. This disc may not have the same mellow, mystic allure as their debut, but it's still pretty darn good, and consistently engaging. Worth checking out! (See also: Moreno Veloso.)
Henhum De Nos "Serie Acervo Especial" (BMG, 1994)
Fun, bright new wave-ish guitar rock from this popular band from Porto Alegre. This collection draws on their first four albums, from 1988-92, work that reveals an unusually strong affinity for American and British-style rock. It opens with a Portuguese-language cover of David Bowie's "Starman," a song that was, improbably, the band's biggest hit... Their original material, mostly written by bassist Thedy Correa, is of an equal calibre... Although they sometimes go a little overboard with the shrill lead guitars, Henhum De Nos were notable for not getting mired down in hard rock sounds the way many of their BRock contemporaries did... If you're an indierock fan, I can't guarantee that you'll like this band, but this is certainly one of the more interesting, more melodic Brazilian rock records I've heard... Worth checking out!
Los Hermanos "Los Hermanos" (Abril, 1999)
These Rio rockers started out with a harder edge, but eventually settled into a pleasantly softer mode which helps set them apart from many of their more aggressive BRock brethren... This is their first album, which came out a couple of years after the band first got together. It features their breakthrough hit, "Anna Julia," a fab power-pop tune written by the lead singer Marcelo Camelo, with jangly, insistent guitars and an irresistible chorus. The rest of the album features songs with nice guitars, but a driving, unvaried ska rhythm (showing the band's origins in the Brazilian punk scene). It's still interesting, particularly for folks looking for signs of life in Brazil's tiny indie scene, but the ska elements can be monotonous. Worth checking out, and "Anna Julia" is a real gem!
Los Hermanos "Bloco Do Eu Sozinho" (Abril, 2001)
I thought this was a fairly disappointing album... After hitting the pop charts with the perky, power-poppy "Anna Julia," Los Hermanos really played it safe with this generic alt-rock outing, full of crunchy, grungy, fuzzy electric guitar riffs, straight out of the Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins playbooks. This isn't a bad record, really, but considering how much I like the two albums on either side of it, it does seeem a bit flat and unoriginal. If you liked the other records, by all means check this one out, too... but check the others out first if you really want to give these guys a fair shake.
Los Hermanos "Ventura" (BMG-Brasil, 2003)
An exceptional indiepop album from Rio-based band, with gentle, consistently engaging guitars that frame the relaxed, velvet vocals of songwriter Marcelo Camelo. His laidback style has an air of Ron Sexsmith to it; the horns that drift in and out of various songs might bring to mind that whole Belle & Sebastian-inspired, twee-indie chamber music trend. Kassin (known as a bandmate of Moreno Veloso) produced this album, and it bears the subtle stamp of his rock-meets-electronica aesthetic. Although the record may be a little too long (fifteen songs, which by the end of the album start to sound a lot alike), it's still a lot of fun and very, very listenable. Here, at last, is a Brazilian indie band that can really hold its own next to any artist up in USA or the UK... Plus the lyrics are all in Portuguese... (yay!!) This disc is highly recommended, particularly for indiepop fans looking for an accessible entrypoint into modern Brazilian rock.
Frank Jorge "Vida De Verdade" (Trama/YBrazil, 2003)
Excellent! A simple, unassuming set of contemporary melodic power-pop, sung em Portugues by songwriter Frank Jorge. While not as bright or aggressive as some of the foundational power-pop bands, such as The Romantics, Eric Carmen, et. al., this is still quite nice, even moreso since Frank sings all his lyrics in Portuguese, rather than English. (Yay.) This album is very much in keeping with the modern power-pop scene, recalling artists such as Frank Bango, The Wondermints, Pearlfishers, etc. If you like "foreign" indie rock, this is definitely an album you'll want to pick up!
Jupiter Apple "Plastic Soda" (Trama, 2000)
Jupiter Apple "Hisscivilization" (Nolandman, 2002)
Hip Brazilian indie-rock, with an icy cool, ironic attitude. I liked the first track a lot -- a fifteen minute long, Moog-drenched prog-pop jam that could be compared to the ever-dreary Stereolab, yet is redeemed through its amateurish rough edges, and comes off a bit more krautrock-y... something that the folks from Can could be proud of. The rest of the album is okay, too, though less audacious than this opening salvo. I was disappointed, though, that the lyrics were in English, rather than Portuguese -- it would have been much more fun the other way around. (Not that it matters that much; these songs are driven more by their grooves than by the lyrics... But I still prefer hearing "foreign" pop singers performing in their native languages; it seems so much more compelling and true to one's roots, somehow...) All in all, this disc is interesting for the light it sheds on Brazil's nascent indiepop scene, and it stands on its own with the UK and European music it seeks to emulate, though it also doesn't quite set the woods on fire. I'm telling you: they shoulda sung in Portuguese!
Other Brazilian Styles
Main Brazil Index