Music

Graveola: Camaleão Borboleta

With a new experiment every track, Graveola's latest charts a psychedelic journey through Brazil.


Graveola

Camaleão Borboleta

Label: Mais Um Discos
US Release Date: 2016-09-16
Amazon
iTunes

From the first few notes of Camaleão Borboleta, it's tempting to compare Graveola to decades' worth of its countrymen. On opening track "Maquinário", singer Luiz Gabriel-Lopes sounds almost identical to a young Caetano Veloso, and the Tropicália spirit thrives throughout the album as Graveola experiments with psychedelia and West African-inspired rhythms. Echoes of more esoteric artists like Os Mutantes and Tom Zé touch each song, as well, and penultimate track "Back in Bahia" directly references Gilberto Gil's post-exile song of the same name.

But Graveola lives in the present, and its third album proves it with everything from songs about the trials and tribulations of living in the age of the Internet to the struggles and protests of native Brazilians during the anti-demolition protests leading up to the 2014 World Cup. An ode to smokable herbs and love songs about seas and summers help to round out an all-encompassing album.

While many lyrics focus on local sentiments and issues, Graveola's eclectic musical style knows no borders. Samba melts into reggae, and other rhythms come from all directions, whether from neighboring Argentina or distant Cape Verde. Such variety and enthusiasm for experimentation usually keeps Camaleão Borboleta fresh, but backfires when the group doesn't fully commit. Track "Aurora" opens with bright blasts of salsa-style horns that dissipate all too quickly. When the trumpets return, slow and mournful, it feels unnecessary, brass for the sake of brass.

More abstract experiments find more success. Vivid "Costi" twists and pulls a melancholy samba into a psychedelic masterpiece, laced with electric fuzz and crashing cymbals. Modern drums and an ominous hint of bass whip irrepressible protest song "Índio Maracanã" into a frenzy, taking traditional rhythms to the boiling point. Closing track "Carta Convite" takes a short, simple acoustic guitar song and adds the sounds of slow-moving printers with perfect pitch, a fitting and strange end to the release.

Going in so many directions at once makes it hard to pick any tracks that stand out from all the rest. Listened to straight through, however, Camaleão Borboleta charts a day-long journey through the vast cultural diversity of Brazil, from the sunny morning heard in "Maquinário" to the slower, starlit tracks marking the journey's end. Some songs, especially the experimental ones, mark destinations, points along the way worth stopping to see. Others, more straightforward, classical tunes, do the traveling, scenery for the in-between stretches. Of these, the emotional "Back in Bahia", written and sung by percussionist Luiza Brina, is perhaps the most accessible, not just because Brina sings in English, but because of its instant familiarity. Painted with the same brush as any classic bossa nova tune and further colored with electric strings, "Back in Bahia" rings bittersweet and beautiful.

Graveola always shoots for the moon, and often hits its mark, playing with electronic and tropical sounds that add layers of complexity and intrigue to its indie rock. Even when it misses the mark, though, there's something to be learned, whether it's a new sound or a style fusion nobody has tried before. Now three albums into its career, Graveola has proven itself to be a group with the guts to try everything once, and for the imperfections that brings, it also demonstrates a heaping amount of staying power. Wherever Graveola goes next, listeners will follow, as ready for musical triumphs as they will be for the inevitable bumps along the way.

6

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image