World Music OVERLOAD

Oh, Brazil! Land of samba! Bossa nova! Forro! There’s so much to say…where do I begin?!

*deep breath*

I mentioned before that Brazilian music has been with me for a long time, but I had no idea just HOW much I loved it. I try to find some good, interesting, unique music anywhere I go, but here I have been so bombarded with amazing artists that I am currently visiting the CD store daily in order to feed my addiction.

So, instead of spreading them out, because it’s too exciting, here in no particular order, are many Brazilian artists I love (in YouTube format, because I don’t know a better way to share music). Just play these videos, make yourself a nice tropical drink, and let the rhythm take you away to tropical breezes…

JOÃO GILBERTO – Okay, there is a particular order. Let’s just start at the beginning, shall we? Let’s start with the classics, with the musician that made famous names like Ipanema, Corcovado, and Copacabana. If you don’t already own the album Getz/Gilberto, do yourself a favor and locate a copy immediately. You’ll thank me.

To entice you: Perhaps the most famous of all, “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Doralice.”

SEU JORGE – I don’t really know when Seu Jorge became famous in Brazil, but his fame reached international proportions when his songs were featured in the Bill Murray film “The Life Aquatic”. It’s really hard to listen to this music and not want to tap your foot at least a little. It’s okay, get up and dance!

My old favorites, “Carolina” and “Cotidiano”, and my new favorites, “Burguesinha” and “Minha do Condominio.

VICTOR & LEO – I just discovered this duo a few days when I heard “Borboletas” (butterflies…awww) on the radio, but I really like their unhindered acoustic sound and down-home kind of feel, which is very apparent in “Lado Errado” and “Tanto Solidão.”

FERNANDO E SOROCABA – I didn’t know Brazilian honky tonk existed, but look, there it is! I wouldn’t normally call myself a fan of country music, but this is Brazilian, and this song has been stuck in my head for days. Heel toe, heel toe, paga pau!

TRIBALISTAS – This group is so amazing they really deserve their own post, but frankly, I’m too impatient and I want to share this with you NOW. The group Tribalistas, led by Marisa Monte and including Carlinhos Brown (who I also love!), only released one album as a group (they became famous with “Ja Sei Namorar”), but this album is so amazing that they probably couldn’t top it. It’s been a long time since I heard such pure melodies and unique instrumentation, and the lyrics, well… Anyway, here are my favorites from their album: “Carnavalia”, “Velha Infancia”, “Passe em Casa”, and the very romantic “E Voce”.

Whew! …and I’ve only been here a month!


World Music Showcase #5 – Mega Music Blowout

I had this whole list of bands I wanted to talk about eventually, but the news of my immediate promotion (yay!) has meant that I had to leave Indonesia sooner than expected – much sooner. But I still really want you all to know about the awesome music coming out of this country, so I decided to compile them into one big best-of-Indonesia entry. Here are just some of the best bands I’ve found on Indonesia’s exploding music scene:


Likened to Indonesia’s version of Coldplay, this band has the whole alt-rock-pop vibe going for it: a curly, bushy-haired bespectacled nerd singer, interesting videos, the slightest hint of Brit-pop poshness, and an enormous amount of sing-alongability. “Biarlah”is a regular for cover band performers, and “Jangan Lupakan”, romantic and sentimental, is my personal favorite (it’s even partially in English!). They have a MySpace page where you can listen to their hit “Hapus Aku”, and they even have a Wikipedia entry!


I discovered Letto by accident through Youtube (well, the “accident” was more like a journey that started with a Wikipedia entry on orangutans and ended with pop music videos, but anyway…). I like Letto’s unusual rhythms and slightly offbeat, slightly cheezy style and piano instrumentation. “Sampai Nanti, Sampai Mati” is the catchiest, I think, and reminds me of a lazy summer afternoon, though I like the guitar solo of “Ruang Rindu”, which, for some reason, always makes me think of Scotland. Check out their website for cheezy photos and not-quite-grammatically-correct English lyrics. What’s not to love?


This is my favorite of the four bands showcased this week. I bought this CD the same day I left Indonesia, and I haven’t stopped playing it since. I LOVE it. The brand-new band’s jazzy, swingy melodies and the combination of smooth voices and cute English rap make them easy to listen to and easy to enjoy. The video for “Pandangan Pertama” is simple but cute (and gives you a little Bahasa lesson), and Hanya Untukmu” is so catchy it has been stuck in my head for about a week straight now. “Warna Warni Dunia” is the soundtrack for my entire Indonesian experience, and only makes me smile (and want to dance) every time I listen to it. Put on this CD, have some wine, and groove the night away…


One day I said to my friends, “Hey guys, there’s this jazzy song I really like but I don’t know how it goes or what it says or who it’s – ” and both of my friends, in unison, shout, “Maliq and D’essentials!” So I immediately escorted myself to the nearest CD shop (read: pirated CD stand…sorry Maliq) and bought it, and sure enough, the first song, “Dia”, was the one that had been going through my head (and radio) all day. Then these same friends told me about a concert that very night, so I escorted myself right over there, too, and was not disappointed. It was actually a concert of four bands in one, and Maliq was definitely the highlight. I like their smooth, jazzy electrofunk, duet voices, and sly lyrics, and had to smile when I looked around the concert and noticed one hundred Indonesians -and me- singing along to “Funk Flow” together and generally getting our collective groove thing on. Check out their MySpace page and new official website (all in Bahasa, sorry) for more info. 🙂 Just try to listen to it without at least tapping a foot or shaking a hip – go on, I dare you!

Other honorable mentions include Glenn Fredly, Radja, Padi, Peterpan, Ungu, D’Masiv, Afgan….and the list goes on and on!

World Music Showcase #5

You know, I started this journal three years ago simply as a way to keep in touch with friends and family, but since then, it’s grown into something more. For me, this blog has become a way to show people the world through my eyes – through eyes that want to see everything, that are afraid of nothing, that will eat anything, and that want to be friends with everybody. I want to make the world a little smaller, a little less frightening, a little less stereotyped and prejudiced, a little less exotic and a little more amazing, more incredible, more comfortable. Because I truly believe that, from Indiana to Indonesia to Irian Jaya, we are all the same – we all want to laugh, to love, to dance under the moonlight and sing with our friends and eat our favorite foods and spend time with the people we enjoy the most. We are all just people. And in this big, vast world, there’s no border – no cultural, geographical, linguistic, or religious barrier that a smile can’t cross. When we all want to laugh and love, what can there be to be afraid of? I only hope that, with this blog, I am helping to bring the far-flung corners -and people- of the world just a little bit closer.

* * *

That said, I truly believe that there are few mediums more effective in bridging world gaps than music. Music can bring people together in a way nothing else can – it’s something everybody can relate to, regardless of age, language, gender, or origin. You can understand it even when you can’t understand it, if you know what I mean.

Over these three months since I arrived in Indonesia, I’ve had the chance to discover several cool Indonesian bands, and have been wanting to relaunch my World Music Showcase to show everybody all the coolness that is coming out of this part of the world these days.

Sure, Indonesia has several amazing traditional music styles, including the windchime-like calm of gamelan and the nostalgia of dangdut, and the incredible rhythm of Aceh’s saman dance, just to name a few.

…But I like to choose popular bands and singers for World Music Showcase, so that people realize that not everyone in Indonesia is playing bamboo flutes and banging gongs all day….we have electric guitars here, too! Anyway, the first band I’ve chosen is actually headed by Andra, a former member of the band Dewa, probably the best-known and most popular group to come out of Indonesia in the recent past. This week, I am pleased to bring you:


I don’t know if it’s the simplicity of the wildly popular “Sempurna” (“Perfect” in Bahasa Indonesia), the catchiness of “Di Telan Bumi” (“swallowed in the earth”), or the jam session quality of “Surrender” and “3 Keabaijan”, but I love this band. I love the videos for “Main Hati” and “Hitamku”, and “Dengarkan Aku” is the perfect song to play when you’re in a plane, maybe flying back from Bali or somewhere, as the sun sets high above tiny islands in blue waters and the sky turns pink and orange. I love their guitar riffs, I love their melodies, I love singing their songs (badly and off-key) in Bahasa (fumbling over the words) in tiny karaoke bars in Papua. …And they’re pretty cute, too. Enjoy (preferably on a beach, under the shade of a palm tree…or at least on a deck under an umbrella…)!

World Music Showcase #4

I missed my World Music Showcase last week. Oops!

I was waiting until today to present this week’s World Music Showcase beacuse I was supposed to go to a concert last night, so I’d have some photos or something to post. What actually happened was that I took a metro, then a bus to the university, then I walked around for more than forty minutes in the pouring rain and cold with water sloshing into my shoes, asking dozens of people where Building Y was. Then, unsuccessful and on the verge of a cold, I got back on the bus, then the metro, and went back home. End of evening.

That’s one thing that’s terrible about living in a city full of immigrants: no one knows their way around. No one knows where they are, and no one knows where they’re going. Anyway, I had been waiting for this concert for over a month and I’m really disappointed that I didn’t get to see it, but here anyway is the band of the week, which I’m sure would have been worth a bus ride and forty minutes in the rain if I had been able to find the Kultuurkaffee:


I discovered Aranis by accident at FNAC. I was browsing the world music section (where else?), and they had those headphones where you can sample music. I picked up Aranis on a whim and was captivated by the first song, but it was the second song, Vala, that completely overwhelmed me. I don’t know what it is about Aranis, but their music is…intense. I would describe them as contemporary classical, a paradox which is really not a paradox at all. According to their website:

“Two violins, a double bass, accordion, piano, flute, guitar and almost no voice: it is quite clear that Aranis wants to make music you do not hear just anywhere.”


“The secret of Aranis lies in the compelling fact that, as a listener, you are flung to and fro between the finesse of a classical concert and the excitement of a rock concert.” It’s true.

On their website, if you click on CDs, you can watch a video and listen to pretty much all of their music. On their MySpace page, you can listen to other clips, etc.

“Vala” and “Jona” get me every time I listen to them. Music for an imaginary film…

World Music Showcase #3

A lot has happened since last week, and last week’s angry post, but I didn’t feel like writing about any of it. Everything has calmed down. I passed my French exam and have skipped a level into the next course. I have a place to live with Alice, an Italian girl I met the first night here. We only speak French together, and she invites me to cool events all the time. I think this is a good move.

Anyway, last week I posted in the Belgians community, and I discovered a TON of awesome new music to share with everyone. This one has been my favorite so far, so I am pleased to present the next Belgian artist you should all know about:


Okay, actually he’s Puerto Rican, but he’s lived in Belgium since he was 17, and is very popular here, so I think that counts. His music is…well, I think his MySpace describes it as something like an orgasm for the ears. The audio equiavlent of 169 proof alcohol. Anyway, here are some of my favorite songs/videos:

“Angelhead”…he sings mostly in English, rather than in the Dutch of his hometown of Ghent. That’s probably better.

“Baby Lone Star”…I love the rhythm of this song, and its many layers…. the same reason I also love “Broad Day Light”. It always makes me want to sing along!

In Spanish, I love “Tu No Me Quieres”, not only because it makes me want to dance, but because I think the video is funny.

To me, Gabriel Rios is an extremely creative artist who manages to combine Puerto Rican rhythms and danceability with European pop into something everybody can like, but that doesn’t sound just like everything else out there. Find out more at his MySpace page.

The great thing about Belgian artists, too, is that when they do tours, you know it won’t be long before they’ll be performing in your city, or somewhere nearby. There’s not a lot of ground to cover here! Gabriel Rios, live, March 26 – Leuven. I’m there! 🙂

(Hey, is anybody reading/enjoying these things?)

World Music Showcase #2

I realized that I forgot to post the next entry for my World Music Showcase, and even though I’m still ANGRY (see previous post), I am going to post it and hope it cheers me up.

So, the next artist you should all know about is:


According to their cute like Wikipedia entry (which they probably wrote themselves), they are an “indiepop” band. I think that’s pretty accurate. I feel like my Coffeehouse friends might like this group (Lauren Henderson, for some reason, I’m thinking of you when I say this). They were just in Brussels a week ago, but I couldn’t go to the concert because 1) it was sold out, and 2) I was in Brugge. I think they’re currently one of (if not THE) Belgium’s hottest rock groups.

On their MySpace page, you can sample quite a few of their songs, but they’re not my favorites. Here are some videos so you can listen/see:

Bees and Butterflies…I think this is one of their most well-known songs. I love it. There’s no video for this song, but this particular one has the best sound quality.

Found in the Ground….I also love this one.

….and Casper, too. 🙂

Hope you enjoy!

World Music Showcase #1

Since coming to Belgium, I’ve discovered no end of fantastic music by Belgian groups themselves. Anyone who I’ve ever dragged to see Salif Keita or a klezmer concert in the park knows I am a big fan of world music, and I would like to eventually do something professionally in that field. So I am now amassing an enormous collection of world music, and I have to say, I’ve done quite well already. Still, there’s a lot more out there. I know a lot of people do not enjoy music from other countries quite as much as I do, and I hope to change that. So, in an effort to 1)make this blog a little more travel-blog-like, and 2)introduce people to stuff I love, I’m going to start showcasing one band a week, starting with Belgian ones (only ones I like, of course!), until I run out (hey, it’s a small country), and then maybe throw some others in there. We’ll see how it goes.

So, for our first artist, I have chosen:


She’s pretty well-known, at least in certain circles, and though her music has obviously Middle Eastern influences, she’s actually Belgian-born! Her music combines traditional Middle Eastern and North African instrumentation and rhythms with more contemporary sounds, and it’s all quite danceable. I was already familiar with her songs “Mon Amie La Rose” and “Hope”, but she has a variety of albums I didn’t know about. I’ve never had the opportunity to see her in concert, but I bet it’s a party! You can learn all about her on her MySpace page and hear the entirety of her most recent album MishMaoul at I especially like “Feen” and “La Lil Khowf.”

My favorite quote about her from her website reads:

“She embodies the message that there is strength in diversity, that our differences – be they ethnic, racial or religious – are a source of riches to be embraced rather than feared.”

That’s pretty high praise. That kind of music definitely deserves a listen, don’t you think?