Sunday, March 30, 2014

Boogarins: Pure Love From Brazil

I don't listen to radio. There may be podcasts I listen to that are broadcast, but I don't know where or when. There is one exception to this rule: Duane Harriott's show on WFMU on Wednesdays from noon to three. I even have a calendar reminder set so I don't forget to tune in on my desktop every week. Duane's depth of knowledge and feel for music are slightly less astonishing when you learn his uncle is Derrick Harriott, the legendary reggae singer and producer - but only slightly. Every three hour show features at least one period of absolute lift-off, where the groove gets so deep it's hard to pay attention to anything else.

Duane could easily spin three hours of soul 45's that you've never heard before and then become desperate to hear again, but he's too committed to variety and new music to rest on those laurels. One band he started playing at the end of 2013 that piqued my interest was Boogarins, whose debut album was released by Other Music's label in October. It took me a while to follow up but when I heard they were making their first NYC appearance at Other Music last Monday, I made it a point to be there.

Let's but it bluntly: these four young guys from Brazil levitated the store. Right out of the gate, they blew through album-opener Lucifernandis with a cohesion and attack that took the song to another level, with the twin guitars of Fernando Almeida and Benke Ferraz playing the fanfare-like riff with swagger and style. The album was recorded back in 2012 when they were just out of high school so they've lived with these songs a bit. Also, their time in Austin at SXSW and a quick west coast swing must have brought them, along with Hans Castro (drums) and Raphael Vaz (bass), closer together as a unit.

No matter how evil the sound they made was, all of them, especially Almeida, radiated a sweetness and positivity that was highly charismatic. I couldn't help associating this affect with their country of origin, a Brazilian warmth that felt so good on that frigid Manhattan night. Doce was also a triumph, it's ringing opening reminiscent of The Beatles storming cover of Soldier Of Love as well as The Byrds at their most psychedelic. Another song - a new one, I believe - featured a devastating dubbed out breakdown that shook the floor. By the end of the hour-long set, there was no question that Boogarins had arrived, and in spectacular fashion. While I wasn't able to make it to Glasslands Gallery the next night, where they were in the middle of a four act bill headlined by Vertical Scratchers, from all I heard they were no less impressive. As Duane put it on the message board for his show afterwards: "Boogarins...Slayed!!!! I feel bad for the headliners. These kids ain't playing!!"

Boogarins, named after a jasmine flower that supposedly smells like "pure love," will be touring extensively in the U.S. and abroad through June. Get there if you can. And if you can't, get the album, As Plantas Que Curam (Plants That Heal), which is full of gems like Doce and Lucifernandes as well as more left-field moments like Eu Vou, just voice and atmospherics, and Canção Perdida, a brief trip to the jungle with guitar in the distance. They seem to come by their psychedelia more honestly than some current bands, soaking in the same waters enjoyed by fellow Brazilians Os Mutantes and other members of the Tropicalia movement. This is of a piece with the intimate, exploratory feel of the album, which for all its tossed-off flair is also strikingly assured. Almeida and Ferraz, who recorded the album on their own, have mined the music of their forebears and absorbed its lessons to make everything sound like their own. And based on what I heard at Other Music, this is just the beginning for Boogarins.

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