Songs of my Life, pt 2: Os Brazões "Pega a Voga Cabeludo"
Of all the music I've discovered while working at the Dusty Groove, Os Brazões are possibly my favorite. Essentially, they were for Gal Costa what Os Mutantes were for Gilberto Gil, a psychedelic backing band that went on to do their own thing. However, unlike their genre-bending older brothers, Os Brazões never really got any recognition anywhere. I'd never heard of them until a Brazilian reissue of their one and only album randomly appeared in store and even more randomly appeared as a play copy. I was sold on it immediately, a slightly less ambitious version of Os Mutantes that's plenty psychedelic, with requisite references to everyone from Hendrix (in "Canastra Real") to Sergio Mendes ("Caroline, Carol Bela") and everything in between.
It is the album's opener, though, that really hits me. It begins with a slow build of congas then flutes (two of them, in gloriously paired harmony) then a closed high hat then some groovy acoustic guitar strumming that takes about 30 seconds to fully gestate and (to paraphrase a friend) more or less begs, pleads, demands some kind of crazy acid/fuzz guitar lick. Os Brazões leave you in suspense for a few more seconds, letting the anticipation build before unleashing a monster of riff that runs almost continuously for the song's duration. Then, they start singing in occasionally broken harmonies but with a fantastic staccato delivery that is quintessentially Brazilian. I wish I knew what they were saying, but that's probably for the best since I can't really imagine that their lyrics are really that interesting. The song follows a pretty normal arc, ending with a fun little wink of a guitar chord. I can't quite figure out why these guys didn't somehow get revived in the David Byrne inspired resurgence of all things Brazillian in the mid 90s. Maybe it's because in the end they aren't as exceptionally different as the Tom Zes, Caetano Velosos, and Gilberto Gils of the world. Their lack of inclusion on the first Tropecalia
compilation probably sealed their fate as an also-ran. But all this is just speculation. Their biography is totally spotty for those of us who can't read Portuguese. They are, however, a competent, occasionally brilliant, melange of all the styles in the air in Brazil in the late 1960s that are more than deserving of some recognition.