Who Invited That Guy?

Wilbur sat inside the compact rental car in bumper to bumper traffic, checked the fuel gauge for the eighth time in 32 miles, and let out a sigh of resignation. The needle in unrest, its position struggling in noncommittal somewhere between the half and quarter tank readings - a position constantly susceptible to minor changes brought on by his clumsy and frequent disengagements of the car’s clutch pedal. The voice coming from the navigation software in his smartphone reminded him to continue travelling straight ahead for 1.5 miles. For a moment Wilbur pondered on the evolution of present parlance, brought on by the rapid improvement in cellular phone technology, and thought that it may be wise to reconsider the current term used to describe this particular device. Given that he was looking at certainly more than 1.5 miles of cars packing the avenue ahead and around him, he thought of proposing the more accurate though less flattering “obviousphone” as what was perhaps a more adequate descriptor for the small rectangular gadgets. At least until they develop some sort of sentient ability that would make them conscientious enough to preclude the tendency to blurt out pre-programmed directional advice that, at certain points in time - such as in intense traffic - could be understood by the gadget’s owner as, euphemistically, inconvenient. Wilbur chuckled at the thought, but was quickly discouraged from self-amusement when he reminded himself of what 1.5 miles of vehicular congestion meant: a lot more clutch pedal depressions. A clock on the street indicated time and temperature below an unintelligible advertisement. 1:37 P.M, 32 degrees Centigrade. Mercifully, the compact shitbox came equipped with air-conditioning. Possibly the world’s most justifiable $100 surcharge.

São Paulo residents are among the world’s most overcharged tenants, and yet in the few days Wilbur experienced as a driver in the city, he had grown convinced that the most valuable real estate in this particular place was open road space, as people seem to go to dangerous lengths to occupy it within seconds. A brand new 3 square feet of space appeared in front of Wilbur’s car, and he was determined to become its occupier, lest the woman in the SUV next to him come to the decision that she wants to make what most drivers in São Paulo consider to be a potentially life changing decision: a lane change. He disengaged the clutch. The car vibrated violently, as if it were laughing at this hopeless product of suburban American life, then proceeded to inch forward. The fuel needle was now definitely closer to the quarter tank reading.

An “auto journalist” that cannot profess a love for the manual transmission. Only another embarrassing quality Wilbur had to juggle during this and other assignments. A not-so-recent graduate with a degree in history and what used to be a healthy interest in automobile racing, he came to São Paulo in order to secure an interview with the son of one of the owners of the defunct Brazilan racing team Scuderia Madunina, which provided the legenday Juan Manuel Fangio with a winning car during the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix. Wilbur was writing a small piece on the race to accompany an article in a car magazine about the more exciting, politically charged 1958 running of the race, in which Castro kidnapped Fangio in a symbolic display of rebellion against then president Fulgencio Batista. Nothing really came of the kidnapping - Fangio even befriended his captors - but the race was not held the following year. In any case, Wilbur’s article was only a small blurb, and the ultimately shallow interview could certainly have been conducted over the phone, however he was persuaded by an old college friend who lived in the city to make the trip, and take a few days off. If, he argued to his editor, he managed to conduct the interview in person, would the magazine at least cover his hotel expenses? They did, so he came. Now, sitting in gridlock on the way to his friend’s 5 year-old son’s birthday party - “sorry man, last minute work trip, but I would love to see you so why don’t you come over for my kid’s birthday party on Sunday afternoon? - Wilbur certainly regretted his choice of holiday location, filled with awkward interactions like the one he was about to face as he arrived at his friend’s house. That is, of course, only if he didn’t have to deal with a Brazilian gas station attendant, first.

Several clutch engagements later, the navigation system delivered the good news by announcing a left turn was imminent. Finally he heard the words he had been waiting for being delivered by the pleasantly robotic female voice: “You have arrived.” He followed his friend’s instructions and stopped in front of the apartment building garage gate. He began to sift through the few phrases he knew in Portuguese in anticipation of an interaction with the inevitable security guard - there is an alarming number of them in São Paulo, they all wear suits and seem impervious to the scorching heat. This awkward exchange never came, however, as the gates opened and Wilbur understood why his friend had asked him to provide the car’s license plate number. Momentary relief. He parked the car, rode up the elevator to the eighth floor, exiting into a small hallway and finding himself face to face with a small uniformed maid wiping up what looked like orange soda from the hardwood floor. She smiled to him, as most Brazilians tend to do, and pointed towards the door. Pleasantries having quickly been exchanged with the host and his English-speaking family, and before he could finally relax and have a beer with his old college friend, Wilbur remembered to ask his friend to meet his son. Responding to his father’s call, the child, who betrayed undeniable resemblance to his father below the Batman costume, came into the room. With a look of confusion on face, the child - sweaty, tired, excited - looked up at Wilbur - sweaty, tired, resigned - then turned to his father and said;

"Pai, quem convidou esse cara?"

Meus Discos Favoritos de 2013 - Sun Rai: Live at Studio Delux

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Pianos elétricos salvam vidas!

Foi isso que eu resolvi espernear no Facebook no dia em que descobri essas canções do australiano Sun Rai no YouTube. E foi completamente sem querer. Na verdade eu estava procurando vídeos do baterista Mark Giuliana com o pianista Brad Mehldau, mas sem querer eu escrevi o nome do Matt Chamberlain, que é outro baterista que toca com o Mehldau de vez em quando. Aí fui cavando, irritado por não achar o vídeo que eu estava procurando, quando na colunazinha ao lado eu vi a pequena foto de um cara tocando piano elétrico frente à um baterista. Cliquei antes mesmo de ler que não tinha nada de Mehldau. E ainda bem que cliquei.

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My Favorite Albums of 2013 - Bárbara Eugênia: “É O Que Temos”

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I first heard Bárbara Eugênia when my friend Irina, the keyboard player for Garotas Suecas, shared the track “Ugabuga Feelings” from É O Que Temos on her Facebook feed. Since I trust her taste in music, and since it had been a while since I had listened to a new female singer who sung in Portuguese, I decided to click on the Soundcloud link. What came next worked like a cupid’s arrow.

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Meus Discos Favoritos de 2013 - My Bloody Valentine: “m b v”

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Sim, eu também fui pego de surpresa.

Tem um amigo meu, aquele que eu falei de Los Angeles que me apresentou o Medicine, que deu risada alta quando eu falei pra ele no final do ano passado que tava puto com o Kevin Shields por que mais uma vez ele foi lá e prometeu que agora sim, o disco ia sair, antes de 2012 acabar. Colocou até no Facebook da banda, que antes não servia pra muita coisa, ou nem existia, uma mensagem falando “estamos finalizando a mixagem das faixas”. Ahan, beleza… Depois de parar de gargalhar ele virou pra mim e disse: “Você tem sorte - só está sofrendo isso durante 5 anos.”

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My Favorite Albums of 2013 - Garotas Suecas: “Feras Míticas”

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I have known the members of Garotas Suecas since 2006, when they followed my band in what turned out to be the first of 3 concerts together in a theatre at a hotel here in São Paulo which no longer exists. I remember how impressed I was by them even back then, when we were all starting out playing garage rock tunes out of compilations like “Nuggets” by lesser known bands, and feeling so great about ourselves. Being in this group of kids who had a band and who knew about these actually not so obscure tracks felt like being a member of a special little club that not many people had access to. And since they were almost all slightly older than my bandmates & I, Garotas Suecas always seemed to me like the band to follow.

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Meus Favoritos de 2013 - Yo La Tengo: “Fade”

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Esse foi o primeiro disco novo que eu comprei em 2013, e o ano começou bem por isso. Álbum novo do Yo La Tengo, afinal, é razão para comemoração, sempre. Com quase 30 anos de estrada, essa nunca foi uma banda com muita pressa para lançar discos novos. Apesar disso eles conseguiram manter um ritmo quase constante de lançamentos a cada 3 ou 4 anos, que nada mais significa que esse é um grupo que sabe que a paciência é uma virtude rara, mas valiosa aos músicos que a exercitam. 

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My Favorite Albums of 2013 - Cérebro Eletrônico: “Vamos Pro Quarto”

This week I’m going to write about my favorite albums that came out in 2013. I’ve decided to write about the albums that came out in the US/UK in Portuguese, and I’ll be writing about the albums that came out here in Brazil in English. I’m doing it this way because when the albums originally came out I probably did the opposite, and so I think it will be a good idea to introduce some of the great music that has come out here to the English speaking group among those of you who actually spend time reading what I write on here. There is no order of preference here. In fact, at the end, if there are any, I’ll be posting a list of “honorable mentions”, in case any of you are interested in hearing some more great music.

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I first heard Vamos Pro Quarto as a live performance in a great club here in São Paulo called Serralheria, where there was poetry stuck to the walls, some great beer, and some crazy art for sale. The actual reason I had attended the concert was because I knew that the DJ for the pre and post concert sets was this beautiful and very interesting singer called Barbara Eugênia, about whom I will be writing in a few days, and I wanted to go see what she’d be playing, and maybe have a chat. I also knew the singer in the band, Tatá Aeroplano, who had composed a few songs that I really enjoyed. I had heard about the band itself back in 2009, when my band was recording our first & only record. Cerebro Eletronico actually recorded their first CD on the same label that was recording us, and the label owner gave me their record, though I confess I probably listened to it once before tossing it aside. 

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Meus Favoritos de 2013 - Medicine: “To The Happy Few”

Essa semana vou postar aqui sobre os discos que saíram em 2013 que eu mais gostei de ouvir tanto de música Brasileira, quanto das músicas de fora. Resolvi que vou colocar os reviews de discos gringos em português (por que devo ter escrito algo sobre eles em Inglês quando cada um saiu) e dos discos Brasileiros vou escrever em Inglês pra galera gringa que presta atenção no que eu escrevo ficar sabendo do que tem de bom aqui no Brasil. Vou tentar colocar aqui um por dia, vamo ver se dá certo. Não existe bem uma ordem de preferência, por sinal. Inclusive, no final ainda vou por uma lista de mais alguns que gostei pra quem quiser ouvir…

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Medicine - To The Happy Few

Começo por um dos discos que eu mais escutei esse ano, e que mereceu receber muito mais atenção do que recebeu. Mas essa é a história do Medicine. Toda hora que você vai ler sobre essa banda, é gente falando que eles foram a resposta Americana ao My Bloody Valentine, e coisas desse tipo. Inclusive, foi ouvindo o MBV que eu acabei chegando nesses caras em 2009, com a ajuda de um amigo meu de L.A que me passou uma baita lista de bandas de shoegaze para procurar depois que eu falei pra ele que tinha passado uma semana inteira com o Loveless no repeat, e que eu já queria ouvir mais musica com guitarras distorcidas e espaciais e vocais que pareciam ter sido gravados de baixo d’agua. 

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