The Brazilian Beat is contributor John Bohannon’s monthly column.
There is an immense amount of international talent at this year’s SxSW music festival in Austin, Texas, so I figured I would do my good deed for the day and help lead you in the direction of some of Brazil’s greatest young talent. Not only is this a primer to the party you should be at Wednesday night (The Rio, where most of these artists are playing), it's a guide even for those who can't make their way down to the city of Austin. These are artists who need to be recognized and taken into consideration on a global scale. When you start to see music as international and not localized, we can get rid of our trendy preconceived notions and get down to the bare-bones of what makes us tick – good music, regardless of where it's from. Take your first night and experience something different. (All artists below are at The Rio on Wednesday night, March 18, unless otherwise noted.)
Canja Rave is the pet project of guitar and drums duo Paula Nozzari and Chris Kochenborger. Rooted in the more traditional indie-rock sound of the 90s, the band explores two-part harmonies that find their beauty in simplicity. Both Nozzari and Kochenborger are veterans of the Brazilian rock scene, playing in various bands including De Falla and Leela. Coming from the southern Brazilian town of Porte Alegra, they are crafting little gems that absolutely cannot be passed up among all the new indie fads.
Canja Rave - "Chega!"
Hailing from the capitol of Brazil, Brasilia-bred indie darlings Nancy craft sultry tunes in the vein of Metric, and sure to make a wave in the states with their SXSW performance. Not to mention the fact that they do sing in English, making their chances of breaking into an American audience greater (quite sad, but that just seems to be the way it is). But lets put aside the fact that they are even from Brazil – their songs stand on their own among a world of indie rock that sounds derivative and uninspired. Nancy is the real deal.
Nancy - "Keep Cooler"
I’d be lying if I said these weren’t some of my honest-to-god favorite tunes coming out of anywhere these days -- Tita Lima is something special. Heavily rooted in the traditional samba beat, the music explores everything from dub to hip-hop to psych-rock (no doubt in part inspired by her father, who played bass in the infamous Brazilian Tropicalia outfit, Os Mutantes). Her debut album 11:11 is truly one of the most inspiring international recordings of the past decade, and has been picked up by everyone from Jurrasic 5 to Giles Peterson. If there is one act you catch at SXSW period, make it Tita Lima, for you won’t be let down.
Tita Lima - "Traz Um Alivio"
If you are familiar with independent culture in Brazil at all, you are probably familiar with the band Uteros em Furia. Vandex was the singer/songwriter in the successful 90s outfit, and is now trying to carve out his niche as a solo artist. Singing in both English and Portuguese, Vandex comes from the cultural melting pot of Salvador, Bahia, and is exploring a number of insane influences on his current musical adventures. He finds comfort in the sounds of Brazilian rock star Raul Seixas, and has the personality of famed Brazilian horror director Coffin Joe. Hell, the guy even lists Jack Black and John Belushi as influences. This is going to be some carnivalesque, psychedelic journey. SXSW has the man listed as a singer-songwriter, but don’t fooled -- it's far from the typical notion of that genre. The only thing Vandex has in common with them is that he sings and writes.
Vandex - "Venha Mamae"
When browsing through the Brazilian artists performing at SxSW, this was a name I wasn’t familiar with. After looking at her MySpace and her top friends, I saw that Julieta Venegas was among them; as the songs began to play it made relatively perfect sense. Although taking a more electronic vibe, Machado finds her melodies in the more mainstream pop realm – and they work rather beautifully. Seeking a chill-out vibe blended with jangly acoustic guitars, Machado strikes me as someone that may have submitted their music to SxSW and got accepted off the strength of the songs alone.
Erika Machado - "Secador, maçã e lente"
The Twelves (Rusty Spurs, midnight Wednesday)
Rio de Janeiro electro maestros João Miguel and Luciano Oliveira (aka The Twelves) should not be missed. Getting fame in the electronic scene after remixing M.I.A.’s “Boyz,” the band creates ultra-hip lush party starters. If Chromeo and Sebastien Tellier were to collaborate, you’d likely get the sonic territory the Twelves are exploring. They have now played festivals alongside Justice, Diplo, LCD Soundsystem and many more. Just wait for these guys to absolutely blow up.
The Twelves - M.I.A. "Boyz" (The Twelves Remix)