Os Brazões

Os Brazões (RGE) 1969

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Os BrazoesBrazilian airwaves were ruled by two distinct powers in the late ’60s: the verbose political rhetoric of a military regime hell-bent on keeping Communism out of Brazil by any means necessary, and the advent of tropicália. The new sounds were an alchemy of psychedelic rock tinkered with by locals, making it their own by mixing in local flair and bossa nova. By 1969, the same year Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil were arrested and sent into exile, military dictator Emílio Garrastazu Médici took the reins of the country, and the death penalty was instituted. This provided a turbulent yet fertile soil for Brazilians to express the woes of the times in song and art. It was also the time Os Brazões released its sole self-titled album, influenced by the angst of the day and the sounds of a hopefully better tomorrow.

The group first made a name for itself as Gal Costa’s backing band, yet allegedly never recorded alongside her. After seeing the electrifying shows put on by the group, the RGE label soon signed the group to record a single album. Though the influences of Os Mutantes and other tropicália artists of the time are present, what is laid to tape sounds nothing like the group’s contemporaries. The gloss of lush horns and complex arrangements found on Veloso and Gil records from the same era is missing. Found in its place is a wall of fuzz spread across the majority of the songs provided by, simply, Roberto. Layered within is wah-wah-drenched rhythm guitar by Miguel, who later adopted the moniker Miguel de Deus, recording one solo album titled Black Soul Brothers and another as a member of Assim Assado.

From the album’s first cut, a cover of Gilberto Gil’s “Pega a Voga, Cabeludo” things take off with an aggressive guitar lead that just doesn’t seem to halt until the album is over. The fully charged “Tão Longe de Mim” is undoubtedly the psychedelic crown jewel of the album, showcasing Eduardo’s scrappy drum work.

Os Brazões created music in a time of political upheaval; their copacetic original compositions are juxtaposed with subtly acidic Brazilian standards like “Volks, Volkswagen Blue” and “Carolina, Carol Bela.” The listener never forgets that this album is distinctly Brazilian, an audible Polaroid of their world slowly developing through four young Brazilians’ eyes: a fusion of past tranquility, present upheaval, and future uncertainty.

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