Sound Travels Monday: New World Music

Listening to this song for the first time, you’ll likely be struck by the deep, soulful voice of the singer, sambista Seu Jorge. with good reason, he’s a singer first and foremost. Many may know him as an actor for his screen-stealing performances in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic and Fernando Meirelles’ City Of God (which is friggin’ dope as hell!) but Seu Jorge has always been singer. More than a singer, he’s a dealer of Truth;  and that Truth is in his samba.
But this project is also about a band: Almaz, who were formed from Brazilian rock stalwarts Nação Zumbi. They came together naturally to record a song for a Walter Salles film; they enjoyed the experience so much that they recorded an entire album of music that inspired them. Songs famous within the Brazilian diaspora (Tim Maia, Jorge Ben) mesh with classic American (Roy Ayers, Michael Jackson) and European (Kraftwerk, Cane and Abel) soul songs begging for a bit of psychedelic samba. They enlisted Beastie Boys and Jack Johnson producer and fellow Brazileiro Mario C. to put the finishing touches on the project. And the album is both warm and dark;  psychedelic and yet grounded, uplifting but at times somber. And on the whole, highly recommended.

Seu Jorge “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” 12″


Manou N’Guessan Gallo is a singer who also plays the bass and percussion instruments. Born in the village of Divo in the Ivory Coast, and raised by her grandmother, she first tasted success at the age of 12 at a show put on by friends. The start of her career ensued at Abidjan, before moving to Europe to join up with Belgian group, Zap Mama. Nowadays, Manou Gallo records under her real name, producing songs in Dida, French and English.

Manou Gallo “Nanan” Lowlin


Tony Blundetto is a character from the TV series, “Sopranos”, interpreted by the brilliant Steve Buscemi. Yet behind this pseudonym also hides a multi-instrumentalist (percussion, keyboards, guitar) who is the daytime programmer for Radio Nova, one of Paris’ most audacious radio stations, and the nightime creator of unique ambient sounds made up of reggae, dub, soul and R&B. The release is all over the place and always cool.

Blundetto “Voices feat. Hindi Zahra” Bad Bad Things


Lastly, I played a new one from Colombian pop star Juanes. Who is unapologetically Juanes. In its rhythm and lyrics, the track is eminently Latin, as he speaks colloquially about the prowess of the local “yerbatero,” or medicine man. In instrumentation, “Yerbatero” returns to a rougher, earthier sound, albeit one with unabashedly catchy hooks and chord progressions coupled with surprising elements: a subtle flute on the bridge and an immediately recognizable chorus with a Middle Eastern motif. While the shouts at the end of each chorus line may be a little too gung-ho, it’s nevertheless a startling track that stands out from the current lineup of over produced, over-programmed fare that saturates radio today.

Juanes “Yerbatero” Yerbatero single



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